Dubai first city in the Middle East to become UNESCO Creative City of Design

Dubai has become the first city in the Middle East to be appointed as a ‘Unesco Creative City of Design’, officials announced on Sunday.

Dubai is now the 24th such city in the world, within the Unesco Creative Cites Network (UCCN), which has 180 members from 72 countries in “creative fields” such as Design, Film, Gastronomy, and Literature, among others.

As part of its UCCN membership, Dubai will roll out a four-year plan to further its creativity and support creative fields, said Dawood Abdul Rahman Al Hajiri, director-general of Dubai Municipality.

His comments came during an announcement event at the Youth Hub in Emirates Towers, attended by senior officials from various Dubai government departments.

Al Hajiri said details of the plan, which will include programmes for each year in the four-year plan, will be announced soon.

He added that Dubai was selected by Unesco for a variety of reasons, after assessing its creative prowess for a number of years.

“Dubai is a city of innovation, it’s always been a city of innovation. The [Creative City of Design] is a great achievement, and this is what the vision of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has inspired us to achieve,” Al Hajiri said.

When asked if there had been a long period of evaluation, Al Hajiri said Unesco had been reviewing Dubai for four years before the decision to declare it as a City of Design was made. “The [UCCN] application has a lot of standards that we have to go with and Dubai has already passed all the requirements.”

He added that those standards “is not just one thing; they are talking about design, art, museums, architecture — a lot of things”.

Mohammad Abdullah, president of Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), said “design and creativity” were embedded in Dubai’s plans today — be they for transport, education, or infrastructure — and also within its strategy for the coming years.

Abdullah said this approach was a factor in Dubai being appointed as a Creative City of Design. He added that establishments like DIDI and Dubai Design District are part of Dubai’s focus on Design.

“The concept of design today is: identify certain problems and design creative solutions, be it in health, aviation, industry — it involves any discipline in life,” Abdullah said.

Creativity will be critical to survival in the future “as everything is being replaced by machines — and I believe that creativity has always been a factor of growth”, said Emirati artist Rowdha Ahmad Al Sayegh during the announcement.

The official logo of the appointment, which reads “Dubai City of Design” and key initiatives to achieve the overall objectives of Unesco’s Innovative Design Cities Network was also unveiled during the press conference.

The initiatives include the Dubai Creative City of Design Council, the Dubai National Design Centre, the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, Dubai Design and Innovation Festival and Design and Innovation for Public Service Transformation. These initiatives will be accompanied by numerous exhibitions, conferences, workshops, promotional tours, seminars and competitions.

Mohammad Abdullah, president of DIDI commented: “Today, we mark yet another successful milestone for Dubai as it joins UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network. We are looking forward to working side by side with Dubai Municipality along with the other well-respected partners that are supporting this initiative.

Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation participation without a doubt will powerfully impact the results targeted by this initiative as at DIDI we are invested in growing the creative industry with exceptional talent. Our graduates will conceive and create sustainable design solutions for today’s problems for the benefit of tomorrow’s world.

Joining UNESCO’s Creative City Network, will allow DIDI to collaborate further afield and give our regional talent endless opportunities. We look forward to working together to strengthen our creative network.”