The global banter-over-breakfast movement, CreativeMornings, finally landed on Dubai's shores with its debut morning meet-up at Dubai Media City, receiving a warm welcome from the city's burgeoning creative community
Founded in 2008 by Tina Roth Eisenberg, CreativeMornings sprang from her desire to develop a regular, free and accessible event for New York’s vibrant creative community. Eisenberg's simple concept--a monthly Friday morning breakfast followed by a short TED-style talk--steadily spread across North America and beyond, with local chapters mushrooming across Latin America, Africa and Asia; making CreativeMornings a truly international community movement.
“We saw the impact generated by CreativeMornings in boosting a city’s creative community. This forum is exactly what a cosmopolitan city like Dubai needs, an open and inspiring space that celebrates the creative talent in this town, catalyzing connections between them and jump starting their minds through intelligent discourse,” commented James Piecowye, Co-founder of the CreativeMornings Dubai chapter.
Piecowye, who works as an Associate Professor at Zayed University’s College of Communication and Media Sciences, has been laying the groundwork for the chapter launch since 2012 together with Paul Kelly and Haifa AlRasheed of Digital Ape Media.
He remarked: “We pitched Dubai with a lot of conviction and heart to the CreativeMornings leadership team. We even filmed a video as part of our proposal. When you consider the pace of development in this vibrant town, there was a creative pulse beating loud and clear that we needed to showcase and nurture.”
How can each one of us help in defining that the right questions are being asked?
Renowned for hosting top-notch speakers from the creative elite, CreativeMornings followed the same mantra at its launch event, exploring the theme “Looking in the Mirror” through its speakers: urban planning aficionado – Marc Stringa and rising restaurateur and food entrepreneur Tahir Shah – as its inaugural speakers.
With over a decade of urban planning experience in the Middle East, London-based Stringa spoke about city-scale urbanism and the necessity for creative approaches to enable mass change behaviours, fuelling the rise of the so-called “Creative Class.”
“A variety of disciplines overlap and influence each other when it comes to large scale urban design,” he explained, adding, “The extent of this overlap, the questions it begets, the answers it uncovers and the ability to harness this complexity is what allows the development of creative solutions for urban growth.” He poignantly noted: “Advocates and antagonists of urban development ought to ask themselves, at a city scale, are major cities asking the right questions? And how can each one of us help in defining that the right questions are being asked?”
Tahir Shah, founder and Managing Director of Moti Roti--the region’s first gourmet curry popup shop--shared his dynamic journey into the uncharted waters of entrepreneurship. Post several years of the corporate grind at a major telecom company, British-born Shah chose to transform his personal fondness for Pakistani home food into a fledgling food business that celebrates the best of his culinary culture and caters to a discerning palate that believes in quality and value-for-money.
The mercurial Shah highlighted the integral role of creativity in entrepreneurship: “Any business is a form of self-expression, essentially it’s an entrepreneur's loudest form of self-expression. Just like how artists put their essence into their paintings, music, performance...your business idea is driven by your vision. When you're in that wilderness, your imagination and creativity can change the course of your life.”
Shah’s epic creative moment came in the form of setting up his first pop-up shop, in an effort to build his customer base and improve his product, while bypassing the expensive rental and fit-out process that most new restaurants follow, often to their fiscal detriment. Some two years and several pop-up shops later and with a “Restaurateur of the Year” nomination to his credit, Shah is proof positive of the power of creativity.
Like its fellow chapters worldwide, CreativeMornings events remain free thanks to the support of local sponsors and partners. Piecowye credits the generosity and commitment of Mohammad Abdullah, Managing Director of TECOM Investments’ Media Cluster in making the Dubai chapter launch a reality by offering the Dubai Media City offices as the venue for its monthly meetings. .
With this month’s event exploring the theme of “Chance” helmed by internationally-renowned French-Tunisian Calligraffiti artist eL Seed, Dubai’s intelligentsia can count on a rousing and inspirational morning, one of many to come.