MOCAfest brings global artists to one room

The creative sister of the World Islamic Economic Forum paved the way for designers all over the world to pool their ideas

MOCAfest, the World Islamic Economic Forum’s Arts and Culture Festival, kicked off in Dubai with a riot of artists, designers and creative showcasing their talents to a captivated audience. The event’s aim was to provide a platform for emerging creative artists from all over the world to display their works on an international stage.

Whatever stage they’re at, we’re here to take it to the next level

Alia Khan, Founder and Chairwoman of the Islamic Fashion Design Council (IFDC)

As the seventh edition of the event, its focus was mainly on the arts and culture of the Gulf region. However, an important theme running throughout was the importance of an international exchange of ideas for the creative industries.

“Sharing ideas internationally is the key to being a great designer,” said Alia Khan, Founder and Chairwoman of the Islamic Fashion Design Council (IFDC). “That level of exposure breeds inspiration and gives designers an added range.” As an example Khan explained that the versatility of Islamic fashion comes because some of its influence is cultural, some regional and some just down to taste.

“Our look and how we speak is a very big part of who we are and how people perceive us,” she said. “When we come to fashion, we have to look at it as a language in itself.”

The three days of MOCAfest included dialogue and networking sessions, masterclasses, leadership workshops, art residencies, film screenings, visual art exhibitions and artistic collaborations. In doing so, the event also turned a light onto the level of diversity to be found in the creative arts.

Creativity was deemed the 'lifeblood of culture' at the festival Image: WIEF

“I would like to see more of the diversity that the world is demanding come out of [this region],” said Khan. “And I don’t even think that I need to wish for it all that hard.” She believes it’s an area where there are already some great things happening. Having established the IFDC, her desire is to help designers reach a global audience.

“What we want to do is help create the next big names from this region and the Islamic fashion space,” she said. “There are some big names that need to come out and we’re ready to make that happen on a global level.” The IFDC is developing products, services and support platforms, over several phases, to assist in the process.

“These phases will help us develop the support these industry players need in order to catapult themselves to the next level," Khan explained. "Right now they may be small internet shops or ‘mom and pop’ stores; but whatever stage they’re at, we’re here to take it to the next level.”