Dubai: A Unique, Creative Cultural Co-habitat

Delve into the artistic evolving scene of a city striving on a culture of having many cultures

Screen printing workshop by Azim Al GhusseinDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Urban areas are today home to over half the world’s population. Throughout history they have been where changes happen for a civilisation, where dynamic people and organisations can come together to inspire and create a sustainable future.

 Building a supportable creative economy, which can be cultivated in three main sectors – media and entertainment, arts and cultural heritage and creative business-to-business services – can make or break a city. In the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, culture and creativity are one of the essential levers for action.    

The Russian ballet Giselle preformed at Dubai Opera (2021)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

There needs to be a variety of skillsets in the population of any city to be a success   

A truly creative city needs to be both a place where creativity happens and where it is consumed. 

The Stairway installation (2020)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

Creative cities need to understand how their spaces are used, to ensure that the design of their infrastructure allows for interaction, communication and networking. 

A balance needs to be found in the character of the city between stability, tradition and distinctiveness. 

Together, Art Dubai 2007 (2007)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

To stand out and succeed, policies of tolerance and openness are vital, as is an attractiveness and appeal, promising a good quality of life. 

MENA Grad Show at Dubai design week 2020 edition (2020)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

 An adaptability and willingness to constantly evolve are crucial attributes, to be a place of possibility, of change, of inspiration, with a can-do and reactive attitude. A combination of top-down policies and grassroots initiatives need to coexist comfortably.

Carbon 12 contemporary gallery (2017)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

Creative cities need to be confident in their past achievements and be willing to support new projects – and be open to their failure. 

Dubai was added to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2017, named as a Creative City of Design. 

D3 Architecture Festival (2020)Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

As the city matures further, many other elements in Dubai’s cultural ecosystem are strengthening and diversifying its creative scene. Its clustered creative districts are, for example, becoming recognised models, being replicated in cities across the world.

Its entrepreneurial spirit and energy, its natural competitiveness and profit-driven pursuit of success and being a meeting point between East and West are crucial factors to the city’s prosperity.

Contemporary Waddington Custot, 2017, From the collection of: Dubai Culture & Arts Authority
Contemporary Waddington Custot, 2017, From the collection of: Dubai Culture & Arts Authority
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The clarity of its brand identity, its confidence on the world stage, the balance it finds in its cultural ecosystem between private organizations and government-led initiatives; the overall character of its residents, communities and institutions. There is a tangible connection between the city’s rapid growth as a metropolis enticing foreign investment and tourism and how it has built its infrastructure with increasing sophistication and maturity in the field of arts and culture.  

HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in Art DubaiDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The unique achievements of Dubai as a creative city have been achieved within two particular timeframes:    

The 50 years since the formation of the UAE and the 15 years since the arrival of Christie’s Auction House, the first Art Dubai and the openings of contemporary art galleries.    

Dubai design district, D3Dubai Culture & Arts Authority

At a time in human history when we are by necessity distanced as a result of the COVID19 epidemic, finding connections through culture and the creative industries has never been more essential. 

Performance at the Junction spaceDubai Culture & Arts Authority

By its cosmopolitan demographic, this city shows that 190 nationalities can happily cohabit and learn from one another. Cities have a responsibility to their citizens to provide safe spaces.   

In-between places which allow for accidental encounters, to make it possible to dream, to be surprised, to foster the most creative of moments, to inject play into all our lives and to be all the happier for it. 

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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