There is no better place for creativity to thrive than at the crossroads of culture and innovation.
And that place is Dubai: A city that brims with opportunities, new ideas, creative people and a rich historical tradition — factors that form the very foundation of a creative and innovative city.
As the UAE marks its first Innovation Week under the directives and guidance of my father, His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we are taking a significant stride forward in tapping the power of innovation to advance and promote the city’s cultural scene.
Innovation in the creative space has a defining role in promoting societal well-being and national reputation. It brings two real benefits: The first is the social value that a vibrant cultural scene assures for the community, contributing to the happiness of the people. Cultural innovation expands the realm of the arts, shines the spotlight on talents and promotes social inclusiveness. As His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid reminds us: “Our daily work is all about achieving the happiness of people.”
The second advantage is the added economic value creation. Creative industries are a significant contributor to the GDP globally.
According to a 2015 report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, creative industries in the US contribute $698 billion (Dh2.56 trillion) to the national economy and employ 4.7 million people, accounting for a trade surplus of $25 billion. A report by the British government states that creative industries — including television, film and music — are now worth $116.7 billion per year in the $2.56 trillion national economy. This equates to $13.36 million per hour. The growth of creative industries in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region has been equally significant, with the design sector accounting for $100 billion in market value in 2014, according to the Mena Design Outlook report by the Dubai Fashion & Design Council.
But I believe that this is only the beginning of Dubai’s cultural narrative. In past years, we have been setting the platform for creative industries to grow and prosper. The Dubai Art Season, an initiative launched by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, showcasing the full breadth of fine arts events, including Art Dubai and Sikka Art Fair, set the fundamentals for a home-grown arts scene.
The Dubai International Film Festival and the inception of the Dubai Studio City and Dubai Film & TV Commission fast-tracked the growth of the city’s film industry.
Likewise, there have been significant leaps made in every sphere of art — from literature to music and performing arts. In the coming years, these sectors will strengthen their share of Dubai’s GDP.
As home to more than 200 nationalities, Dubai offers a canvas like no other for global cultural exchange. This unparalleled cultural assimilation also builds a truly cosmopolitan identity to Dubai’s creative industries.
The emirate is today a global cultural centre that serves as a magnet in attracting talent and resources. The momentum that we are witnessing today within the industry and its significance to economic and social welfare, propels us to take our cultural scene, and by extension our creative industries, to the next level. In this, innovation is the game changer.
That is what we seek to accomplish through a wide-ranging calendar of activities during the UAE Innovation Week. From inspiring children to embrace their creativity through workshops, to bringing together stakeholders in the art industry at Art Lab, we are engaging the community to meet, think and develop ideas that can bring compelling progress to our cultural scene.
We have also created a new engine for cultural innovation that is aligned to the aspirations of our community. That is the roll-out of Creatopia, a new online platform serving the creative and cultural industries in Dubai and the region.
Creatopia is the first Government-empowered online portal that is dedicated to creative and cultural industry professionals. It allows creatives to craft online profiles showcasing their work and also serves as a platform for the exchange of ideas and the honing of skills, while ensuring ease of doing business within the creative industry through unparalleled access to creative solutions. It is a movement that promotes collaboration among artists, creative entrepreneurs, the government and private sector. The launch of Creatopia is underpinned by the goals of Dubai Plan 2021, which calls for greater inclusivity, happiness and sustainability. These are all by-products of a city that thrives in creative and cultural pursuits.
Whether it is brainstorming new ways to share information, drawing upon existing resources to solve ongoing challenges or simply providing new avenues of thought for the next generation of home-grown businesses, creativity will be a vital component of Dubai’s future.
As part of the UAE Innovation Week, we also launched Creative Dubai, a book that charts the transformation of Dubai into a creative economy, highlighted through the experiences and insights of the creative community and its stakeholders.
The road ahead holds exciting possibilities for Dubai’s creative and cultural professionals. We are in a unique position to become a thriving creative destination, given the abundance of talent in our creative community, our booming business sector and our visionary leadership that supports a constant drive towards greater innovation and progress.
Creatopia will open doors to a new cultural narrative within the region, starting with Dubai. It marks a new journey, defined by the meeting of creativity and innovation, which will be path-breaking for our creative industries taking it to the next level of growth.
Shaikha Latifa Bint Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the Vice-Chairwoman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, the emirate’s dedicated entity for heritage, arts and culture.