The road to market success for creatives is as much about finding the right ecosystem as it is about unleashing their inner muse.
Artists, designers and performers with ambitious dreams are increasingly seeking to relocate to places that provide the supportive environment needed to turn their sparks of inspiration into agile enterprises.
Dubai is emerging as a new destination for creatives from around the world looking for fresh pastures to unlock the business potential of their big ideas. The city has rolled out the red carpet and pruned all vestiges of red tape to help creatives speed up the journey to realising their dreams.
Under the framework of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, the emirate has created an entire architecture of support services, incentives and business and legislative enablers to ease the journey of creatives across various stages of the creative value chain – from ideation to production, through to marketing and distribution.
The launch pad of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy is the Al Quoz Creative Zone, an integrated creative community being developed by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) in cooperation with various government entities in the emirate that seeks to transform the creative cluster that has been organically developing in the Al Quoz area over the past few years into a comprehensive industry ecosystem.
These initiatives are catalysing the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy’s aim to more than double the number of Dubai-based creative companies from 8,300 in 2020 to 15,000 by 2026, and increase creative jobs in the emirate, from 70,000 to 140,000 by 2026. Ultimately, the Strategy seeks to raise the contribution of creative industries to Dubai’s GDP from 2.6 per cent in 2020 to 5 per cent by 2026, in the process turning the emirate into the capital of the global creative economy.
“Dubai’s vision to position itself as the nucleus of the world’s creative industry is being made reality by building an ecosystem that supports creative entrepreneurs in bringing their ideas to market,”
said Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Member of the Dubai Council.
“One of the primary objectives of Dubai’s Creative Economy Strategy is to make it faster, simpler and easier for people in the sector to set up and run their ventures in Dubai. We have rendered it possible for creators to go online and obtain a creative licence in seven minutes. The industry is already contributing more to Dubai’s economy than the global average, and over the next few years, we foresee an even bigger entrepreneurial surge in the sector. Ultimately, we seek to create a global hub for cultural and creative activity in Dubai where people in the industry can come together to expand the boundaries of artistic expression and entrepreneurship.”
Accelerated business set-up
Leading the charge in helping creative ventures expedite their business set-up in Dubai is the ‘Creatives’ Journey’; a scheme that simplifies and accelerates the establishment and operations of creative ventures. Developed by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and the Department of Economy and Tourism, as part of the ‘Invest in Dubai’ platform, the initiative enables creative and talented individuals to launch their businesses within minutes. On the platform, creatives can choose the activity, define the legal form, pay for their licence, and obtain the establishment certificate issued by the Federal Authority for Identity and Citizenship through hassle-free online processes. As of 2022, the ‘Creatives’ Journey’ recorded an 82% increase in creative licences issued in Al Quoz and a 76% rise across Dubai as a whole.
The ‘Creatives’ Journey’ platform caters to six main sectors – cultural and natural heritage, books and press, performing arts and celebration, audiovisual and interactive media, visual arts and crafts, and design and creative services. Other fields branching out from these are also covered, including publishing, cinema, film and video, music, art, cultural heritage museums, historical sites, archives, cultural events, libraries and other related sub-sectors.
The platform offers four types of licences; the trader licence that allows freelancers of all nationalities to work from home; the Intelaq licence for independent professionals among UAE and GCC citizens; an instant licence, available to owners of start-ups across nationalities; and an SME start-up licence for Emirati and GCC citizens that provides exemption from fees for five years.
Through partnerships with the public and private sector, the ‘Creatives’ Journey’ platform offers various services including the Zoho app to manage the operations of creative businesses. In conjunction with the Commercial Bank of Dubai, the platform also provides smart banking solutions to meet the financing needs of creative entrepreneurs. Through another partnership with Letswork, it enables creative professionals to find practical and affordable workplace solutions that are a right fit for them.
Other initiatives introduced by Dubai Culture to nurture creative entrepreneurship include supporting the change of land use from industrial to creative and facilitating accelerated processes for obtaining approvals and licences. The Al Quoz Creative Zone has been added to Dubai Land Department’s Rental Index, allowing businesses and professionals to calculate rent increases and average rent in the real estate market by entering the area’s data.
Long-term cultural visas
Dubai Culture has also offered a raft of immigration enablers to help creative entrepreneurs and professionals set up a long-term base in the emirate. In the world’s first initiative of its kind, Dubai Culture offers multi-year cultural visas to position the emirate as an incubator for creativity and a hub for talent.
The introduction of the first-of-its-kind 10 year visa is part of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy’s broader goal to enhance the participation of creators, writers and artists in the emirate’s knowledge-based fields and raise the role of Dubai’s cultural and creative sectors in its development process. The cultural visa initiative is aligned with the UAE’s strategy to attract outstanding Arab and international talent to the country to create the critical mass necessary for exponential industry growth.
Harnessing new synergies
Dubai Culture is also stimulating new synergies between creative entrepreneurs and service providers in other feeder sectors that are vital to the growth of the industry. The infrastructure in the planned Al Quoz Creative Zone will help creative businesses easily repurpose or scale-up their facilities to suit the evolving needs of their ventures, a flexibility that is rarely available in other commercial zones. Furthermore, the Zone provides easy access to both the raw material and skilled tradesmanship necessary to run an efficient creative production line.
The Authority is forging cooperation with free zones in Dubai to provide business-enabling services to promote entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative sectors. Dubai Culture has signed an MoU with Dubai CommerCity to offer a range of support services for enterprises in diverse creative fields including music, fine arts, photography, film & video production, video game development, fashion design, graphic design, product design, interior and landscape design, architectural services, advertising services, and IT and software services. The partnership also strives to raise Dubai’s ability to attract creative talent to Dubai by offering, in addition to the 10-year cultural visas, a range of facilities including workspaces, studios, conference rooms, exhibitions and logistics, consultation and banking services.
Dubai’s 2,300 licensed cultural events held every year, creative facilities across the emirate and its vibrant creative community create a dynamic ecosystem that enables entrepreneurs, artists and professionals in the sector to build new connections, share knowledge and ideas and showcase their work. Backing all of the latest offerings for the creative community is Dubai’s robust infrastructure and formidable assets in the cultural sector that enable it to provide a productive ecosystem for creative entrepreneurs and professionals from all over the world. From public libraries to theatres, publishing houses and operas, its historical districts and archeological sites, creative complexes, traditional markets and museums, Dubai’s creative and culture scene attracts millions of visitors annually.
Furthermore, a study conducted by Dubai Culture, in partnership with the Dubai Statistics Center, showed that the number of small and micro businesses operating in the creative industries continues to rise year after year.
Dubai Art Season
The Dubai Art Season, the ongoing two-month programme of artistic and creative events, is one of the biggest confluences of creative economy stakeholders in the region and beyond. Being held through February and March, the Dubai Art Season includes a wide range of events across the creative spectrum, including the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, Sikka Art and Design Festival, Art Dubai, Dubai Opera performances, and ‘DIFC Art Nights’.
Earlier this month, Dubai hosted the 16th edition of Art Dubai, featuring 400 artists and 130 galleries from more than 40 countries. Artists, connoisseurs, collectors and gallery owners from across the world converged on Dubai to attend the world’s premier event to see and buy modern and contemporary art from the Global South. Providing a vital alternative to mainstream art narratives and thematic perspectives, this year’s Art Dubai reinforced the city’s emergence as a major art commerce hub for the Global South as well as an incubator of talent and a catalyst for the global creative economy.
Dubai also hosted another global art event this month, the World Art Dubai, which brought together more than 4,000 contemporary artworks from over 300 renowned galleries and solo artists, hailing from over 60 countries, providing collectors and enthusiasts a giant treasure trove of eclectic, affordable and original art. Events like Art Dubai and World Art Dubai, together with more regionally and locally focused festivals like the Sikka Art and Design Festival, are not only creating opportunities for promising artists to demonstrate their talent, but also for creative entrepreneurs to tap new opportunities arising from the growth of Dubai’s artistic landscape.
The success of the emirate’s efforts to harness its strengths as a destination for creative entrepreneurs and talent has been vindicated by Dubai’s second ranking in the world and top ranking in the MENA region in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) in the cultural and creative industries (CCI) in 2021. In 2021 alone, the emirate attracted 233 new projects in the cultural and creative sector, surpassing other major cities such as New York, Singapore and Berlin.
If the rankings are any indication, Dubai is set to grow in stature as an entrepreneurial hub for ambitious creative startups and promising business ventures. Further initiatives set to be launched by Dubai Culture will continue to create fresh pathways for a new generation of creative entrepreneurs, talent and innovators to succeed and flourish in the emirate.
News Source: Dubai Media Office