Voices from the top: Khadija Al Bastaki, executive director, Dubai Design District
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Voices from the top: Khadija Al Bastaki, executive director, Dubai Design District

Voices from the top: Khadija Al Bastaki, executive director, Dubai Design District

The district already has a packed calendar of events for 2022 to highlight landmark achievements

For all of us, 2020 was a challenging year and much of the past year has been dedicated to reconciling ourselves with what we value and how we do things. It has been a period of considerable adversity and learnings and as we look to 2022, we continue to adapt to our
new normality and the unpredictability around us.

For us at Dubai Design District (d3), the last 18 months has seen our community show incredible resilience and collaboration – and I’m so proud of this. As the heart of the region’s design and creative scene, we have absorbed learnings from the pandemic and continued to rethink the ‘regular’ by embracing the inevitability of change and becoming active architects of the future creative landscape.

Our community at d3 is closer knit than ever today. We tested and expanded our ecosystem’s potential for collaboration and innovation. Organising Dubai Design Week at d3 last year (which at the time was the first cultural event held globally in the pandemic setting) and the launch of Arab Fashion Week this summer in strategic partnership with Arab Fashion Council, are a testament to our resilience. And to organise both these events – in full physical format – and with the most extensive programme to date for Dubai Design Week, feel like considerable achievements and highlight the desire of our community to be back together in person – learning, supporting, exchanging ideas and inspiring one another.

We have maintained d3’s growth momentum over the last 18 months and have continued to attract businesses ranging from multinational luxury design firms to promising local and regional startups. Our creative community has grown to over 10,000 and our business partners to more than 600.

Many Emirati-owned companies are among the companies to have joined the d3 community in the last year-and-a-half. We have seen remarkable talent and ideas over the last 18 months too, from international studios and designers to emerging entrepreneurs and independent creatives.

If we are to thrive in the future world, we must ensure that the strategic partnerships built in the past two years, in particular, continue to nurture and evolve – and we must develop more. We already have a packed calendar of events for 2022 to highlight landmark achievements in interiors, architecture, fashion, product and visual design disciplines.

We hope to attract more notable companies to our network with competitive benefits, opportunities for expansion and access to a remarkable talent pool. To that effect, we must continue investing in emerging talent and providing them a launching platform. While large corporations set a high bar for excellence, it is students, freelancers, startups and SMEs that inject fresh ideas and independent thinking into the industry.

Female talent will also play a major role moving into 2022. Presently, d3 is home to nearly 100 Emirati businesses, many of which are led by women, and we hope to see this number grow. We are fortunate to live in a country that prioritises equality, however it is up to us to continue clearing the path for the generations following us.

The pandemic may have shown us how little control we have over the future, but that should be more freeing than frightening. Chaos inspires creativity, requiring us to unite and develop innovative solutions to unprecedented problems. Creativity in all its forms allows us to test the limits of our imagination indefinitely, and perhaps the new normal will inspire us in ways unimaginable.

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