How can governments inspire local creativity?

Vision speaks to Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), to find out how a city can cultivate creative talent 

Vision: How can a vibrant creative scene contribute to a city’s quality of life?

Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum: For me, a vibrant creative scene is fundamental to a city that, like Dubai, aims to offer an exceptional quality of life to residents. Quality of life reflects a number of factors that contribute to the happiness of its population. These include infrastructure, health, employment opportunities, good education, a pleasant urban environment, and diverse activities in shared public spaces.

A dynamic arts and culture infrastructure might include museums, galleries and creative businesses, festivals and celebrations, and non-profit or government initiatives. A vibrant cultural scene offers fulfilling employment to creative professionals and enjoyment to the public, as well as contributing to education.

Her highness Sheikha Latifa
Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is Vice Chairman of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture)

Q: How have you seen this working well in other cities?

A: Berlin is a classic example of how supporting a strong community of cultural, creative and technology industries can improve a city’s quality of life and draw in new residents and businesses. Berlin’s strong reputation for diversity is credited with enacting social, cultural and economic improvements for the wider city. We could also look at London’s Shoreditch, a once-declining industrial area that has been regenerated into a creative hub for architects, designers, technology firms and start-ups and developed a thriving local economy.

Q: What are creative clusters, and how have they helped stimulate the creative economy in Dubai?

A: Dubai has always been a place with an environment that nurtures the creative scene. The arts scene has been growing organically for the past 30 years and now has the support of the government of Dubai through Dubai Culture.


The Dubai Creative Clusters Authority oversees 10 free zones dedicated to creative and knowledge-based industries such as media, technology, design and communications. Those creative clusters have become strong communities, which foster collaboration among more than 64,000 workers based in these areas.

Initiatives like Creatopia, a government-empowered virtual community where technology, business and creative communities can come together to exchange ideas, is a good example of how Dubai is driving
a sustainable creative economy.

Q: Is there a particular sector you see benefiting from Dubai’s creative economy?

A: A good example is the success of the blossoming design industry in the UAE. Through a combination of government support, large-scale initiatives such as the Dubai Design District (d3), projects such as the Dubai Design and Fashion Council, the entrepreneurialism of individual designers, and finally, the establishment of the Dubai Institute for Design and Innovation, Dubai is emerging as a respected design centre.

Q: How are projects supported in the emirate, and what can be done to grow young local talent?

A: Dubai Culture is committed to supporting emerging and established talent in the city through partnerships, facilitating the establishment of cultural organisations, developing initiatives for a vibrant creative industry and providing the platforms for established talent to hone their skills.

The Dubai Art Season, an initiative launched by Dubai Culture, showcases talent from multiple different fields; The Dubai International Film Festival and the inception of the Dubai Studio City and Dubai Film & TV Commission fast-tracked the growth of the city’s film industry; and Dubai Design Week’s Global Grad Show showcases the largest display of design and innovation by graduates from top design schools from across the globe.

Those are just a few examples of the efforts in place, the latest of which is the establishment of Dubai Creative Clusters Authority, which aims to attract, retain and grow creative businesses in Dubai, in line with my father His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai’s vision.

Q: Does multiculturalism have an impact on Dubai’s creative sector?

A: Dubai is an exceptionally multi-cultural society, where over 200 nationalities live together. This rich diversity means that we are able to draw on design talent and artistic inspiration from all over the world. The recently announced line-up for Art Dubai for 2017 has more than 90 galleries from 44 countries; Dubai Design Week in its second edition in October alone had over 550 participating regional and international designers.

Dubai has always been a city that embraces people from all over the world and where tolerance allows residents to retain their cultural identity. This is the key factor that allows a diverse creative scene to thrive.