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Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum speaking during a session on ‘Building Cities of the Future: Dubai’s Ambition for a Global Creative Metropolis’ Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai has issued 10-year cultural visas to 5,000 creatives and cemented its position as a regional creative metropolis, Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, chairperson of Dubai Culture, told the World Government Summit on Wednesday at Expo 2020 Dubai.

The world’s first long-term cultural visa was first approved by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in 2019 to attract artists, authors and innovators and establish Dubai as an incubator for regional and international talents.

“I’m happy to say today that 5,000 creatives in Dubai hold that visa now,” Sheikha Latifa said at a session titled ‘Building Cities of the Future: Dubai’s Ambition for a Global Creative Metropolis’.

“Now, turning Dubai into the next creative metropolis is not a dream. Dubai has already cemented itself as a leader in the region that is now growing steadily into an international and cultural platform,” she said, presenting the details of various initiatives that support the creative industry, the huge number of creatives in the emirate and their contribution to the economy.

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Delegates listening to Sheikha Latifa Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Home of creatives

Dubai is now home to 14,700 cultural and creative businesses, 108,000 creative talents and the creative sector has contributed to four per cent to Dubai’s GDP, Sheikha Latifa revealed.

“I have to mention that this is one per cent higher than the global statistics. Before the [COVID-19] pandemic, the creative industry contributed annual global revenue of $2250 billion. That is three per cent of the global GDP.”

Listing the mega events catering to the creative sector hosted by Dubai, Sheikha Latifa said Dubai keeps building bridges between cultures. “Freedom of entrepreneurship is very important for our culture. We will make Dubai the easiest place for creatives to set up and operate.”

With the flexible government system, she said, Dubai has created a one-stop-shop for creatives on ‘Invest in Dubai’ website. “Creatives can now go online, apply for all the necessary approvals and obtain a creative license in seven minutes,” she said.

Milestone tweet

Sheikha Latifa also shared the story of how all these great strides had begun and changed the future of the creative sector in Dubai with just one tweet from her father, Sheikh Mohammed, appointing her as the chairperson of Dubai Culture. However, the COVID-19 pandemic hit just six months after that, posing new challenges for Sheikha Latifa and her team.

“For me, this was a chance to apply foresight and proactivity just as my father taught us. It was a time to take advantage of the circumstances. And look at it as an opportunity to innovate and not as a predicament we had to overcome. It was a time to rewrite what was possible for the industry and lay the foundation for it to progress to the next level,” she said, sharing how she personally addressed the concerns of the creative people during the pandemic and came up with new initiatives and strategies to support them.

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Sheikha Latifa said Dubai already had the right infrastructure for creative industry to flourish.

“We needed to create the right ecosystem for it to thrive. Now as we all have seen, the pandemic has proved to us, beyond its huge economic impact, culture and creativity is what makes us human. It is what we need in the face of adversity. A creative city is resilient.”

Disagreeing to the common notion that culture is soft power, she stated that “culture is power; economic and social power”.