View of d3
All the design elements are in place and the UAE has got more of them. Image Credit: Supplied

Rome might not have been built in a day, but if we are to stack the timelines of development for comparison, the UAE might as well have. Our accelerated ascent to the global stage is one bursting with spitfire achievements. There is no time like 50 years into our forward-facing sprint to take pause and celebrate how far we have come.

Under our visionary leadership, we have turned sand into skyscrapers; and contributed to the global arts and culture scene with the ingenuity of our cosmopolitan community. We have proven our might and grit—the home of former fisherman and pearl divers is one of the world’s most economically competitive countries, achieving remarkable milestones in diverse sectors, from technology and tourism to industry.

Dubai Design District (d3) entered the conversation in 2013 as a consolidated address where creative minds could engage and inspire. We have proven ourselves the epicentre of talent, investment and creative innovation in the UAE and the wider – and a first of its kind community at that. We support global companies, SMEs, entrepreneurs and students who write and rewrite the future narrative every day from our district, sharing our vision to ‘Rethink the Regular’.

A design epicentre

Their participation in making our flagship events starred dates in the global creative calendar, collaborating to deliver dynamic solutions and filling our minds with food for thought have put our emirate on par with creative nuclei the likes of London, New York, Berlin and Paris. We are proud of the work we have done, and in true UAE fashion, are already focusing our eyes on the horizon. The Principles of the 50 laid out by our leadership set a framework of values for every industry and sector to embrace, and design plays a critical role in achieving this vision in time for the centenary.

We must first begin by expanding our definition of design. It is a practice that transcends all disciplines, the foundation of innovation and human-centric technology. From our cell phones and physical business hubs like ours to robotics and industry, design defines the parameters of what any product does, how well it works and how people will engage with it. It affects the way we live, how we interact, our efficiency and our wellbeing.

The UAE’s future foray into space will rely heavily on design, to address the challenges of a zero-gravity environment – from the successful function of a spacecraft to reducing the psychological and physiological stresses on the astronauts it carries. Sustainability - which underlines a great many of our national objectives - requires innovative design that thoughtfully reduces waste, utilises ecologically sound material, guarantees longevity while improving how we live, work and produce. Even digital transformation requires human-centric design to ensure usability and intuitiveness to enhance our quality of life.

Ease the gap

We must bridge the gap between creativity and technicality to serve these noble missions. Design is the jumping point for many of our goals, and we must ensure that the different sectors – industry, technology, healthcare and education – keep design thinking at their heart.

At d3, we pledge to continually nurture a platform that facilitates insightful dialogue and collaboration. Our existing roster of business partners represents design across a breadth of disciplines. Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), a leader in design thinking and innovation across all sectors, is already delivering a design-driven generation in our locale thanks to the hard work of professors exploring digital transformation, robotics, 3D modelling, blockchain and more.

Our business incubator, in5, is enabling entrepreneurs and start-ups to deliver out-of-the-box solutions and products to keep us ahead of the curve. With expert mentorship, investment opportunities, networking events and a variety of benefits, they are boosting our community’s global competitiveness and raising the bar for ingenuity. Our future goals as a leading creative district will be to cast an even wider net to attract inventive minds and skilled talent to enrichen this conversation. International companies and home-grown talent alike will benefit from our collaborative platform, enhancing Dubai’s creative economy and delivering cutting-edge solutions to prove that our next 50 years will be as industrious and future-defining as the ones just passed.