Stock Dubai skyline
The skyline of Dubai and the high Burj Khalifa are pictured after sunset Image Credit: AFP

The decision by Dubai authorities to grant 1,000 cultural visas to creators and artists from around the world is a welcome step that further consolidates the pioneering initiative launched by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in 2019.

According to Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, it has received 261 cultural visa applications from individuals hailing from 46 nations since the initiative was announced. A total of 120 applicants have met the required criteria, and a majority of these applicants have been issued visas as well, while the remaining are currently under process.

With this new phase of the cultural visa initiative under way, the UAE can not only position itself as a global leader in the field of culture, but also as a hub for artistic talent, an incubator for creative entrepreneurs and host to a thriving economy built around cultural activities. In addition, the visa creates a new benchmark for Arab and international talents.

Indeed, Dubai provides a stimulating environment for creativity and its contributions have helped boost the UAE’s standing in the global cultural arena by attracting a pool of exceptional creators, writers, artists and designers. Alongside other opportunities recently offered by the UAE to attract the world’s most talented individuals in their respective fields under the long-term Golden Visa programme, the world’s first cultural visa will also add further momentum to the UAE’s rapid transformation into a knowledge economy and create more jobs aligned to the industry.

Dubai has always been a melting pot of cultures with more than 200 nationalities coexisting in peace and harmony and enriching each other’s experiences in unique ways. The cultural visa not only recognises the power of that experience, but also offers one of the world’s best commercial opportunities for creative individuals and the industry.

From a world-class opera house to public libraries and theatres, the Al Quoz cultural district, more than 135 heritage houses, historic neighbourhoods, ancient archaeological sites and museums, the cultural landscape of Dubai alone attracts more than 1.6 million visitors annually. Dubai’s average of 2,300 cultural events every year bring to town the who’s who of music, arts, literature and entertainment to create a vibrant creative ecosystem that enables artists and entrepreneurs in the sector to build new connections, forge new collaborations and share their wealth of knowledge and ideas. For emerging artists and creatives, Dubai offers an unparalleled platform to showcase their work.

Bolstered by such creative talents, the cultural visas will therefore not only reinvigorate the UAE’s cultural economy but also go a long way in boosting Dubai’s reputation as a global intellectual powerhouse.