Dubai Culture holds Al Quoz Accelerators workshop, activating committee’s work for developing Al Quoz Creative Zone

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Collective efforts to shape the future of creativity in Dubai

–          The first workshop bringing together representatives from committee members as well as from the emirate’s creative community

–          A 100-day action plan to define priorities and a roadmap for the next five years.

–          The creative industries in Dubai possess a promising potential in serving the sustainable development goals.

–          Al Quoz creative zone development plans are based on a long-term vision aimed at achieving sustainable organic growth for the region.

–          A future outlook for creativity in Dubai that celebrates all its forms and keeps pace with the development of its tools.

–          The ultimate goal of the project is to create a name for Al Quoz on the global stage and to strengthen Dubai’s position as the new global capital for the creative economy.

Dubai, UAE: The first Al Quoz Accelerators workshop, which was launched by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) in cooperation with its partners at Alserkal Avenue in Al Quoz, brought together representatives from committee members as well as from the emirate’s creative community to develop Al Quoz Creative Zone. It succeeded in laying out the components of the 100-day plan, constituting a comprehensive development plan to determine the priorities of the committee members’ work to develop the zone and strengthen its position as an integrated, dynamic and creative centre as well as a regional and global incubator for creative individuals and companies, setting timelines and drawing a roadmap for the next five years to ensure the region’s sustainable growth and prosperity.

Based on the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into the global capital of the creative economy by 2025, Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture, had recently appointed the members to the committee that she is currently chairing to develop Al Quoz Creative Zone to strengthen the emirate’s position as a regional and international centre for the creative economy within an integrated system that would contribute to achieving Dubai’s comprehensive economic development.

Hala Badri, Director-General of Dubai Culture, inaugurated the Al Quoz Accelerators workshop in the presence of its partners, and representatives from the committee members and the creating community, touching upon the fundamentals of the creative economy and its importance as a supporter of other economic sectors.  She provided a glimpse of the performance of this economy at the global and local levels as well as shed light on the most important pillars for developing the creative economy in Dubai and achieve the vision of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Hala Badri said: “Decades ago, Dubai invested in establishing sophisticated, creative complexes in various sectors that attracted a large number of companies and innovators from around the world; the emirate’s creative industries possess strong and promising capabilities to play a pivotal role in serving the sustainable development goals. Improving Dubai’s competitiveness in the field of the creative economy rests on several pillars, most important of which is the development of an integrated infrastructure for the prosperity of creative people and industries. We seek to achieve this through the development of Al Quoz Creative Zone with our partners while preserving the region’s spirit of originality to provide a pioneering environment and a comprehensive system that would meet the requirements for developing the creative sector in the emirate, ensuring that it is a strong competitor to similar regions in the world.”

The Director-General also highlighted the strategic objectives of developing Al Quoz Creative Zone; the projects that were approved within the development plan, such as providing a unified and integrated platform to serve the creative talents, establishing Al Quoz Creative Membership, providing a flexible mobility system, flexible multi-use laws, providing multi-use creative spaces, and providing spaces for creative complexes; the benefits for the creators who would set up their creative businesses and industries in there, as well as who would establish new creative companies or institutions; and the basic principles from which the committee would start implementing the project.

Hala Badri added: “We worked with wasl Asset Management Group (AMG), the Roads and Transport Authority in Dubai (RTA), Dubai Municipality, Dubai Economy, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism), and representatives from the creative community to develop an integrated system that would support the creative economy. This system includes developing Al Quoz Creative Zone within a vision that not only sets short-term objections, but also relies on a long-term view of what we aspire to achieve in the region. We want to ensure sustainable organic growth through continuous innovation and development by building on what has been achieved, thus making certain that in five years, Al Quoz Creative Zone will be far superior than what it is now.”

Hala Badri added: “As a collective effort, our ultimate goal is to become a centre of attraction for creative talents from around the world and to become a global community and capital for the creative economy. Hence, our view of creativity in Dubai is futuristic, celebrating in all its forms and keeping pace with the development of its tools, allowing our creative community to be an incubator for global talents.”

The workshop included dialogue sessions moderated by members from Dubai Culture in addition to five working groups, each of which addressed one of the workshop’s main topics, which included multipurpose laws and spaces, physical infrastructure, creative business support system for ease of services and business establishment, attracting talents, and perceptions of the creative community. The working groups brought together representatives from wasl AMG, Dubai Municipality, RTA, Dubai Tourism, and Dubai Economy as well as representatives of the creative community, which tangibly engages members of this community in developing creative ideas to enhance the strengths of Al Quoz and identify realistic solutions to overcome the challenges.

The teams addressed the strengths of Al Quoz; the weaknesses or challenges facing the creative community; the available opportunities and capabilities; and innovative, creative ideas. The workshop resulted with a road map for Al Quoz Creative Zone over the next five years, the components of the 100-day plan and timeframes for its implementation were defined, and dates were set for future meetings with committee members and project-based working groups as well as developing a mechanism for exchanging information on developments. At the conclusion of the sessions, a number of creative people were nominated to obtain long-term cultural visas.

Eng Hussain Al Banna, Executive Director of Traffic Department, Traffic and Roads Agency, RTA, said: “Al Quoz Accelerators Workshop is an important step towards charting out a roadmap for projects and initiatives aimed at transforming Al Quoz community from its current predominant industrial nature into an innovative environment. Such an environment has to be inspiring for businesses to come up with concepts and proposals to be undertaken in the district.”

Al Banna added: “RTA is intending to carry out an array of projects and initiatives to support Al Quoz District Innovative project. The Workshop was a great opportunity to explore a host of ideas and thoughts about the technical and design aspects of the mobility tracks in the area including tracks for pedestrians, bikes, e-scooters, buses and others.”

Eng. Sanaa Al-Alili, Acting Director of the Urban Planning and Studies Department in Dubai Municipality, said: “We at Dubai Municipality reiterate our support to achieve the objectives of the action plan and harness all means to enhance the vision of the wise leadership in forming a unique and exceptional creative boom. We also seeking to provide the facilities and permits that would contribute to enabling creative people and intellectuals and highlight their talents and energies.”

Al-Alili pointed out that the vision of the Al Quoz Creative Zone is strategically aligned with the proposals and outputs of the Dubai Urban Plan, by supporting one of the proposed centres in the Al Quoz area, specialised in supporting the fields of design and art, which enhances the integration between the creative vision of Al Quoz and the Dubai Urban Plan.

Al-Alili added: “We believe in the effective role that Al Quoz Creative Zone will play in shaping an unprecedented cultural awakening and being the ideal haven for all the creative people of the world through concerted efforts and by providing all the requirements that would ensure the realisation of all achievements and ambitions.”

Jassim Al Qallaf, Senior Manager of Business Development in the Business Registration & Licensing (BRL) sector in Dubai Economy, said: “Dubai continues to establish its global leadership in everything related to creativity and innovation, thanks to the continuous directives of our wise leadership in this context, which contributes to shaping the features of the future creative economy across various fields. We are determined to create an innovative system based on transforming Al Quoz into a comprehensive creative hub, as this would attract creative and talented people from around the world. We will spare no effort to cooperate with our various partners from the public and private sectors to achieve this transformation as well as ensure the best and desired results in various sectors.”

Umran Shah, Managing Director of Commercial Leasing at A.R.M. Holding, said: “The Dubai Creative Economy Strategy conveys our leadership’s vision of an advanced economy where knowledge, culture, creativity and innovation take the lead. We are committed to its successful fulfilment, and as enablers of prosperity, A.R.M. Holding seeks to nurture the creative human capital in Dubai. We are thrilled to see the community activated with the launch of the Al Quoz Accelerators workshop, the first building block upon which Dubai will stand as the cultural capital of the world.”

Quoting some of the creative community members who participated in the workshop, Mohammed Saeed Hareb said: “Turning Al Quoz into a creative district is very important. Our presence in Alserkal Avenue is evidence that the industrial environment can be transformed into a creative one. We are in the process of updating legislation and listening to artists to identify their needs. We thank Dubai Culture for its cooperation and for bringing together all concerned parties in this meeting.”

Abdalla Al Mulla said: “There are currently multiple challenges that creatives experience in the sector, including the provision of business licenses, identifying the type of rental contracts, and zoning among others. Frameworks that are put in place to facilitate these matters will have a ripple effect that will positively affect other sectors.”

Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director of Alserkal, said: “With Dubai forming a key pillar for arts infrastructure and the creative economy in the region through the contribution of homegrown initiatives, such as Alserkal, it is only natural that we would steer towards contemporary policy-making processes. Formulating an enhanced plan for Al Quoz that places community, expertise and knowledge at its core is a landmark attempt by the government to solidify Dubai’s role as a conduit for disruptive innovation in the creative industries.”

Butheina Kazim, Co-Founder of Cinema Akil, said: “This is the first time that we see a comprehensive and consensus-based effort on behalf of the creative community and beyond. Dubai Culture’s efforts to build an integrated infrastructure and comprehensive system to serve the creative industries, as well as bring about real change by transforming the challenges and obstacles that creative people face into strengths, are truly exceptional and require long-term work. These efforts reflect Dubai Culture’s will and determination to form a realistic view of the aspirations of the creative community and work to fulfill them, which, in my opinion, will ensure the desired transformation that we all aspire to.”

Hind Bin Demaithan, Owner of Hamzat Wasl studio, expressed her optimism about the launch of the project and the importance of establishing Al Quoz Creative Zone, saying: “The focal point that the project can provide is in producing the materials in Dubai instead of shipping them from outside the country, especially when we have the infrastructure that would enable us to manufacture these items at a cost equal to their manufacture in other countries, thus enabling creatives to produce and create more as well as motivate them with the support from the government entities.”

Dariush Zandi, who lived in Dubai for over 40 years, said: “This workshop is a very important step, especially as it gave us the opportunity to express our stories and the challenges that lay ahead. Together, by exchanging views, we will witness success. My ambition was to find a space for work, living and entertainment, and this project strives to make it happen. For me, the most important result of this project is the success of the emirate, which is ultimately a success for us as well.”

Tala Badri expressed her happiness with the project and her optimism in achieving its goals, adding: “I think the most important thing that must be done is to finalise the plan, put it into action, and inform the public of what is happening to ensure a sense of transparency.”

The committee members for developing Al Quoz Creative Zone include Vice-Chairman of the committee, HE Mattar Al Tayer, Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of RTA; HE Dawoud Al Hajri, Director-General of Dubai Municipality; HE Sami Al Qamzi, Director-General of Dubai Economy; HE Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai Tourism; HE Hala Badri, Director-General of Dubai Culture; and HE Hesham Abdullah Al Qassim, CEO of wasl AMG. Further members will be added to the committee as the development of the Al Quoz Creative Zone progresses.