This world-class design school could revolutionise Dubai’s creative economy

Backed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The New School’s Parsons School of Design, the UAE’s first design school will foster the development of the UAE's design economy, and is set to produce local and global innovation

The recent launch of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation (DIDI), the UAE’s first design school, has confirmed the region as a leading creative hub and a future design destination.

The inauguration comes at a particularly exciting time for Emirati design, as a recent business forecast has predicted the region’s design to be worth a total of US$36bn within the next four years.

A joint venture between Dubai Design District (d3) developer Tecom and the government’s Dubai Design and Fashion Council, the institute will educate, motivate, and inspire a new generation of young innovators on both a local and an international level.

In fact, DIDI’s Bachelor degrees are tailored-made for the new university, with contribution from two of the world’s top five design schools – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and The New School’s Parsons School of Design (Parsons).

By incorporating unique aspects of local culture and design, while integrating the global visions of MIT and Parsons, the courses are exclusive to the region, and have already garnered international attention.

According to Hashim Sarkis, Dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning, the degrees will also “affirm the growing importance of design as a means to improve the relationship between human beings and their environment”.

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An open-plan layout will encourage dynamic, interdisciplinary learning

The school’s own environment, Dubai’s celebrated d3 district, will no doubt contribute to the success of the new university. Inspired by creative hubs like Shoreditch in London and Chelsea in New York, d3 will provide both a creative community setting and prime resources to the cohort of young creators.

DIDI itself, with its 100,000 sq ft campus, designed by Foster & Partners, was also created with innovation in mind. Within an open ‘mega-studio’, students from courses ranging from strategic design management to visual arts, media and fashion, are encouraged to engage in interdisciplinary cross-collaboration.

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UAE design is predicted to be worth a total of US$36bn by 2020, and a new cohort of DIDI design students will certainly contribute to this

Alongside this dynamic teaching approach, DIDI’s research and facilities have received a reported US$73m in backing, and will allow for true growth in design that ranges from art and fashion to technology and digital health.

The MENA region’s design is already growing twice as fast as that of the rest of the world, and the diversification of higher education opportunities will no doubt maintain the region’s growing reputation as a hub of creativity and technology.

The first students will join the institution in autumn 2018, and the vast potential of their creative endeavours is certainly something to look forward to.