Design market rises as Dubai’s new economic driver

90% of economic growth in the design industry is expected to stem from architecture, interiors and fashion.

Downtown Design plays a key role in fulfilling demand and accelerating sustainable growth for the regional design market.

Supported by the Dubai government, there has been a great focus on the cultural, arts and design scenes in Dubai.

With an entire free zone district dedicated to design, Dubai Design District (d3) that fosters design and innovation, Dubai’s vision is to become the regional hub for design, and is well on the way to establishing itself as a global design centre.

The UAE is the largest market in the Middle East & North Africa region in the design sector and is the second largest Arab economy after Saudi Arabia.

The design market in the UAE has contributed US$ 29.7 billion in 2015, proving to be an important economic driver.

According to MENA (Middle East and North Africa) Design Outlook report commissioned by Dubai Design and Fashion Council

(DDFC) last year, the design market in the UAE is expected to get a boost reaching an estimated US$ 35.9 billion in 2019.


Global Gradshow – Lightbound by Emilia Tapprest

Overall in the region, the design market is expected to grow by about 6 per cent annually to reach $147.5 billion by 2019.

The Middle East has seen a constant growth in the development of midrange hospitality projects with Dubai alone projecting 100,000 new hotel rooms in time for Expo 2020.

With the number of visitors expected to rise up to 20 million by the end of the decade; hotel operators, architects and designers face the challenge of meeting this growing demand.

Mohammad Saeed Al Shehhi, Chief Operating Officer of d3, said: “I’m thrilled that Downtown Design is again taking place at d3.

The growth in size of the event reaffirms its popularity and also ensures d3, and Dubai, are set to become a global hub for culture and design as well as a global meeting point for the international design community.”

At Downtown Design, the impact that the development of Dubai is having on the rest of the world is clearly apparent.


As the commercial centerpiece of Dubai Design Week, Downtown Design provides a platform for new-to-the-market and iconic design brands.

Director of ITA (Italian Trade Agency), Gianpaolo Bruno, said:

Italian export of furniture and furnishing complements to the UAE has in fact grown steadily over the past three years, making Italy the second supplier of furniture in this Country.

Downtown Design is definitely the most notable fair in the Middle East dedicated to original and quality design, and by far the ideal

platform to showcase the art of craftsmanship and embrace the essence of Italian style.”


Downtown Design’s Fair Director, Rue Kothari, said:

Our mission to create a design hub for the Middle East here in the Emirates shows great potential; and with Downtown Design and

the return of Dubai Design Week, we are contributing to raising the profile of our city’s design output, both for brands and buyers.

One way is to balance the established and iconic brands with new ‘discovery’ brands that allow visitors to engage with innovative new products they won’t find on their annual trip to Milan.” added Kothari.

With a developing buyers programme allowing buyers and brands to connect at the fair, Dubai Design Week’s talks and workshops programme to dip in and out of, and evening networking events, showroom openings and collection launches all across the city, there are plenty of opportunities for networking and grassroots engagement.


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