Latifa bint Mohammed during the inauguration of Dubai Design Week. Image Credit: DMO

Dubai: Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, inaugurated today (Tuesday) the fifth edition of Dubai Design Week, consisting of over 200 events and over 150 participating organisations. Staged in strategic partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), the strategic support of Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (DCAA), and the support of Audi and A.R.M. Holding, the fifth edition of Dubai Design Week is its most multidisciplinary and extensive programme to date.

The week-long festival, held under the patronage of Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed, comprises of a wide range of exhibitions, installations, panel discussions and workshops, as well as city-wide events for design enthusiasts and the public.

With its main hub in d3, the business community dedicated to the art and design industries, Dubai Design Week has been a key player in cementing the city as a destination for design professionals and enthusiasts. This year’s programme focuses on regional designers, offering more opportunities than ever for visitors to directly engage with them, and foster a dialogue that reinforces Dubai’s position as the region’s creative capital.

Latifa bint Mohammed said Dubai Design Week is one of the key highlights of Dubai’s vibrant cultural and creative landscape and contributes to the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform the emirate into a global cultural hub and a centre for innovation in the region.

“We are delighted that Dubai Design Week, the largest creative festival in the Middle East, has grown significantly from 350 international designers in 2015 to 560 this year, and from 70 UAE-based participants to 180, raising Dubai’s global profile as an incubator for creative talent and innovation. In light of Dubai’s new cultural vision, announced earlier this year by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, we will continue to build and invest in flagship initiatives like Dubai Design Week that offer creative communities from all over the world the opportunity to collaborate, interact and develop,” Sheikha Latifa said.

“We look forward to receiving visitors to this year’s dynamic programme, which will engage people of all ages. Dubai is keen to create a supportive environment for the world’s brightest and most creative minds to come together and develop products and solutions that help shape a better and happier life for humanity," Sheikha Latifa added.

Khadija Al Bastaki, Chief Executive of Dubai Design District (d3), says: “d3 has played a pivotal role in establishing Dubai Design Week as the largest regional design event. As the strategic partner, d3 helps aspiring designers translate their disruptive ideas into commercial success by providing a valuable platform to promote the wealth of creative talent that exists both in the UAE and the wider region. Over the years, we have brought some of the region’s most renowned design talent to Dubai to add vibrance and depth to the local creative community. d3 has created a robust foundation for the design industry to grow in the UAE, bringing events like Dubai Design Week to unlock a wealth of opportunities for the region as well as its emerging talents.”

Downtown Design, 12 - 15 November 2019

At the heart of Dubai Design Week is Downtown Design, the leading fair for high-quality and original design in the Middle East. With increased participation from international brands, including Arper, Pedrali, Preciosa, Skram and Swarovski, this year’s edition is the most varied yet. Country pavilions have also expanded to include France and Spain spotlighting their manufacturing strengths.

Downtown Editions is the fair’s dedicated section for limited-edition and bespoke design with a spotlight on regional talent. Exhibiting designers include Kuwaiti Meshary AlNassar, with a new collection of sculptural marble lights, Sharjah-based Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council who is presenting pieces of traditional and modern crafts, and UAE-based Tashkeel who is showcasing the outcome of their 2019 Tanween Design Programme featuring designers: Abdalla Al Mulla, Lana El Samman and Yara Habib. Aljoud Lootah is presenting a limited-edition collection of objects inspired by the Emirati wooden dowry chest, while Fernando Mastrangelo launches a collection of mirrors inspired by the geographic features of Dubai.


Another key attraction at Dubai Design Week is MADAR, an educational exhibition supported by d3 and curated by Dubai Design Week Guest Curator, Ghassan Salameh, that sheds light on the current emerging movements and initiatives in the design market of the region today. The curated exhibition features work by regional designers and design experts based in the Middle East, offering insights on the different components and stakeholders that constitute the ecosystem behind the design industry as well as highlighting the various stages of starting a design business. Translating to ‘Orbit’ in English, MADAR is a metaphor, which reflects the fact that ideas never remain still and are always evolving.

Global Grad Show, 12 - 16 November 2019

Global Grad Show, the world’s largest and most diverse gathering of universities, will return to Dubai from 12-16 November once again in partnership with the Investment Corporation of Dubai. Free and open to the public during Dubai Design Week, the fifth edition of Global Grad Show showcases graduate projects from over 100 universities from 43 countries, in the fields of design, science, technology and engineering.

Under the curation of Eleanor Watson, Global Grad Show explores how innovation can impact our lives through different scales: The Human, The Home, The Community, The City and The Planet. This year’s expanded programme includes the “Innovating for Social Impact” conference, as well as an Entrepreneurship Programme for participating students.

This year, Global Grad Show also presents a conference, curated by Community Jameel, for industry professionals and academics, promoting knowledge exchange between institutions, titled “Innovating for Social Impact”.


Translated as ‘doors’ in Arabic, Abwab is an architectural installation that offers a platform for design talent from across the Middle East. In its fifth edition, the designers selected from India, the Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia (supported by Ithra) and Lebanon were challenged to recreate the local classrooms of their cultures through one common theme: “ways of learning”.

The projects include: ‘Qissa Ghar’ meaning ‘Home of Stories’ presented by The Busride Studio which retells creation myths from across India brought to life on Khadi lanterns. ‘WALL(T)Z’ by Polish-Lebanese sisters Tessa & Tara Sakhi, known as T SAKHI Architects, present a journey depicting real and imagined walls. The Eastern Provinces of Saudi Arabia present ‘Sa’af’ by Shahad Alazaz, founder of Azaz Architects, in collaboration with local craftspeople, the work investigates palm fronds woven textiles banded together as a symbolic representation of community.


With a focus on design talent from the region, a series of site-specific installations are displayed within the Design Quarter of d3. These include:

‘Umbra’, an immersive gateway to Dubai Design Week at d3, is a collaboration between Finsa and Emirati design studio Tinkah, inviting visitors to explore the interplay of shadow and light inspired by the Mashrabiya, an element of traditional Middle Eastern architecture historically used as a window or spatial partition.

MAS Architecture Studio have produced a six-metre tall installation titled ‘Barjeel’, inspired by the traditional wind towers of the UAE, composed from layers of reclaimed cardboard and strip lighting in an exercise to build from reused materials.

‘The Maze’ by Nyxo Visionary Design consists of an interface composed of modular panels. The dynamic installation explores interactive surfaces with a sculptural quality creating a seamless and unique pattern every time the visitor reconfigures the rotation.

The Audi Innovation Hub this year is an immersive structure designed by Emirati designer and architect Abdulla Almulla, founder of design studio MULA. Consisting of a sweeping steel structure combined with gradient mesh which creates shade, the design of the hub was inspired by the technology of Audi’s e-tron and Almulla’s use of patterns and geometry in setting design guidelines.

Austrian furniture makers Bene showcase a calligraphic study of the word 'friends’ in collaboration with designer Ibraheem Khamayseh whilst an installation of technology and natural elements titled ‘Green Nexus’ focuses on recyclability, presented by MAS Paints and UAE Modern, and Deliveroo host creative installations and edible experiences for all ages with their pop-up ‘Design, Delivered.'


Exploring cultural aspects of design, architecture and creativity, exhibitions featured at the core of d3 include:

‘Kabul Old City - A Visual Journey’ is a multimedia experience by Turquoise Mountain, using virtual reality technology to digitise endangered cultural heritage sites in 3D.

A showcase of prototypes based on contemporary forms of miniaturisation, DIRes19: Miniaturising Interactive Technologies is a group exhibition bringing faculty and students from the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI) together with startups and In5 members.

Staged by local design incubators Tashkeel, ‘Design + Making UAE’ is the destination for emerging design professionals and everyone curious about the local design ecosystem.

Talks + Workshops

An essential part of Dubai Design Week is the opportunity to experience design through a variety of hands-on workshops and in-depth design talks and panel discussions, throughout the week. This year’s highlights include:

Conferences, panels and talks on the DXBDW Main Stage will cover the intersection between language, craft and the future of urban living, held by over 50 thought leaders ranging from international practitioners to regional influencers, including leading figures from Expo 2020 Dubai, the UAE National Pavilion at Venice and ibda design.

The Audi Innovation Talks, taking place across the week, features a programme of conversations exploring the future potential of technology and innovation, while The Forum at Downtown Design is offering talks with Tomas Alonso, Christian Louboutin, Greg Natale, Dara Huang and Lina Ghotmeh, offering insights into the evolving design scene. From digital marketing for design entrepreneurs and leadership skills in a creative industry, to design trends for 2021 and how to win clients, this year’s workshops at Downtown Design offer actionable insights to help attendees better navigate their professional sphere.

The inaugural edition of the Dubai Culture Creative Lab consists of a programme of live demos and drop-in activities. Visitors of all ages can explore materials and design processes, each focusing on a specific discipline, including; traditional crafts, ceramics 3D printing and S.T.E.A.M. education.

Returning for its third edition, the Making Space provides the opportunity to participate in instructor-led workshops and experiences through making, including pattern printing, thermoforming, terrarium making and mood board designing, whilst at Re:Urban Studio, Dubai Design Week’s masterclasses will be led by members of the local and international design community with the intention to elevate the skills of professionals and aspiring creatives.

Weekend Programme

Throughout the festival, the public is invited to enjoy what Dubai Design Week has to offer at d3. The weekend programme features a range of sights, sounds and experiences tailored to anyone and everyone interested in creativity.

Special workshops and activities for children taking place across the weekend including a Designathon for younger generations to come up with innovative solutions to real-world problems.

The Akiba Garden is hosting a series of activities including live street jazz and the Merchant & Makers Market will feature local makers and artisans selling original products.

Around the City

In addition to the wide range of activations during the 2019 programme at Dubai Design Week’s main hub at d3, a range of events will be taking place across the city, engaging the wider community in Dubai and the UAE. In Al Quoz, Alserkal Avenue is staging the exhibitions ‘Is this Tomorrow’ and ‘Building Bauhaus’. Additionally, exclusive behind the scenes tours with the decision-makers and designers are offered at Al Shindagha Museum throughout the week and the inaugural edition of the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, the first major platform for architecture and urbanism in the region.

Awards and Competitions

The winner of the first edition of the Rado Star Prize UAE will be announced at this year’s Dubai Design Week, with submissions responding to the theme ‘Design with timeless appeal’. Audi Middle East will announce the fourth winner of the Audi Innovation Award during Dubai Design Week 2019. The first of its kind in the region, the award seeks to empower local designers and inspire innovation by challenging creatives to submit entries, this year responding to the theme ‘Simplification. The winning project will receive $25,000 worth of investment in their concept and prototypes of all the shortlisted designs are presented in the striking Audi Innovation Hub.