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Hala Badri: The creative economy is a promising sector that boosts Dubai's global competitiveness

19 Jun, 2021

Under the leadership and directives of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), and based on the country's first-of-its-kind statistical study that showcases the reality of Creative Economy in Dubai conducted by the Authority in cooperation with Dubai Statistics Center — Hala Badri, Director General of Dubai Culture stressed that the creative economy (also known as the ‘orange economy’) is a major priority. This not only stands true during this phase of recovery from the repercussions of COVID-19 but also for decades to come due to its impact that mirrors that of other major sectors in terms of the total value added and the number of profitable institutions operating within the creative industries domains, highlighting that the emirate's integrated and advanced infrastructure qualifies it to be a global hub for attracting investment in creative industries.

Badri added: “In light of the increasing importance of the cultural and creative industries, supporting the creative economy was one of the main sectoral priorities of the Authority's strategic roadmap. In line with our commitment to our active role in achieving the objectives of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai last April, we developed programmes and initiatives of strategic importance that form the essential pillars for the growth of the cultural and creative industries in the emirate and enhance its position to be a regional and international centre for the creative economy within an integrated system that contributes to achieving Dubai's comprehensive economic development. These efforts also come as part of our agenda to support the global efforts towards the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021 declared by the United Nations to promote sustainable and inclusive growth as well as highlight the role of creativity in the economy.”

Badri added: “The study results showcase a positive and healthy sector performance, as the contribution of the cultural and creative industries to the emirate's GDP increased from 2.6% in 2018 to 2.7% in 2019. This comes as a natural result of Dubai’s leadership’s strong vision and its continuous efforts to advance this vital sector to shape the knowledge-based economy of today and the future. These efforts are also fully consistent with the diversification endeavours of the economy and sources of income for the creation of new and promising economic sectors.”

Hala Badri explained that the creative economy covers a range of knowledge-based economic activities that form the backbone of cultural and creative industries and have an impact on the economic system in general. It includes six main sectors: cultural and natural heritage, books and press, performing arts and celebration, audio-visual and interactive media, visual arts and crafts, and design and creative services, in addition to other fields that branch out from it, such as the publishing industry and books, cinema, Film and video, music, various art domains, cultural heritage museums, historical sites, archives, major cultural events, libraries, and other related sub-sectors.

The data and results of the study clearly show the success of Dubai’s strategy in attracting creative capital, skills and entrepreneurs, whereby the number of profitable institutions operating in the creative and cultural industries increased from 8,352 institutions in 2018 to 9,772 companies in 2019, which in turn contributed to providing additional job opportunities in this sector, increasing from 69,341 employees in 2018 to 75,998 employees in 2019, representing a growth of 9.6%. In turn, the number of very small, small, and medium-sized institutions operating in the creative industries reached 9,749 in 2019, representing 99% of the total number of companies operating in this sector. This solidifies the Authority's strategic orientation towards supporting entrepreneurs and SMEs, in addition to its emphasis on the attractiveness and qualitative work environment that the emirate provides to creative entrepreneurs, and, thus, the emirate's ability to attract these skills, which will have a prominent role in supporting the local production of the creative economy in Dubai and the UAE. The Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, as well as the development of Al Quoz Creative Zone as a pilot strategic project, and the future roll-out of other integrated creative zones within the emirate in the coming years will have a great impact in supporting the sector’s health and promoting the attraction of more creative companies, entrepreneurs and capital working in this field, thus achieving the strategic objectives aimed at making the emirate a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving for talents from all over the world and in various fields of creativity.

As for output (production), Badri indicated that 2019 witnessed an increase in production - the value of the final products of goods and services produced by cultural facilities to become available for use outside the facility asides from the goods and services that are produced for self-consumption. Total production value reached AED 22,251,867,968 in 2019, compared to AED 20,836,654,001 in 2018, where the largest share was for the design and creativity services sector with AED 15,624,679,843 in 2019, compared to AED 14,031,645,713 in 2018. Total value added and intermediate consumption analytics have shown that the books and press sector was one of the most promising creative fields, with a rate of about 48%, which validates the performance of this promising sector as well as the need to invest and strengthening it. With the launch of the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, the Authority is keen to sustain the health of the Creative Economy, especially in the recovery phase from the pandemic, to continue achieving growth over the coming years. Dubai’s wise leadership vision coupled with a mature infrastructure both form a strong support all sectors of the creative economy and the role it plays in shaping Dubai’s economy of the future.

Hala Badri stressed that the Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, aims to increase the number of creative and cultural institutions to 15,000, providing 140,000 jobs in various sectors of the creative economy by 2026, and the contribution of the creative economy to 5% of the emirate's GDP with the facilities of granting a long-term cultural visas to creatives who are ready to establish their businesses in Dubai.

Badri affirmed that the ecosystem of the cultural and creative industries is based on a value chain consisting of four elements: innovation, production, distribution, and access channels for the products and services produced in this sector. Enhancing the strength of each of these elements effectively contributes to the sustainability of the sector and the positive social impact resulting from it. She also confirmed that Dubai Culture is intensifying its efforts in cooperation and integration with its partners at the local and global levels to sustain the health of the cultural and creative sectors in the emirate. This is done by activating major projects, initiatives and partnerships, and developing strategies aimed at improving the emirate's attractiveness and ensuring the sustainability of the creative talents' work. In addition, attracting the right type of talent within the creative industries sector and motivating them to establish their business in Dubai is a key priority. Similarly, opening importing markets that consume the creative product and services of the emirate sits takes a key priority within the Authority’s agenda as part of the framework of cultural diplomacy, which represents a driver for these four elements that constitutes the value chain of creative industries.

Badri said: “COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the cultural and creative sector around the world. However, this pandemic has revealed the importance of art, music, and visual and written word as a refuge for people around the world during quarantine. Museums have also found creative ways to share their cultural content with people at home, and musicians have brought psychological comfort to people via the Internet or from balconies of their homes. The creative industries sectors in the emirate are witnessing a response to recovery thanks to the efforts made by the wise leadership in supporting its creative talents. Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum led the cultural movement in Dubai identifying the nature of the challenges this sector is facing and exploring means of cooperation to move towards broader horizons of growth, by developing innovative solutions that contribute to its sustainability. Dubai was one of the first cities in the world to reopen cultural and creative events, physically and not digitally, accelerating the sector’s recovery through interactive platforms such as Dubai Design Week and the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, among others.”

The Director General of Dubai Culture indicated that the Authority is fully aware of the importance of cultural and creative industries, which have become one of the fastest growing industries worldwide, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as many other global reports that shed light on the contribution of those industries to national economies.

The importance of investing in the creative cultural industries sectors

Providing opportunities to achieve more sustainable economic growth: creative industries contribute to the GDP, create job opportunities and achieve revenues from cultural exports in addition to direct impact on other sectors.

Sector’s products enhances the performance of other sectors: The importance of investing in the creative cultural industries sectors stems from the role that this sector plays in enriching other sectors and enhancing their performance as it is linked with an integrative relationship. Creative industries positively affect the health of other sectors, such as information and technology, communications, real estate, tourism, hospitality, and others.

Job durability within the sector unaffected by automation: What distinguishes this sector from others is the advantage of the continuity and escalation of job opportunities within this sector; since the creative industries are among the least vulnerable to automation, they depend mainly on human creativity in all its forms. Therefore, the cultural and creative industries sectors are one of the most important pillars of the emirate’s agenda to create job opportunities, in addition to the role of the creative sector in promoting the culture of entrepreneurship as most innovators tend to establish small and micro-sized companies.

The city's attractiveness: the outputs of the creative industries constitute a factor in the city's attractiveness and talents attraction, which enhances the harmony between society members and their connection with the city on the one hand, and support cultural tourism on the other.

Badri explained that the four elements that will contribute to the growth of the cultural and creative industries in the emirate in the coming months and enhance its position to be a regional and international centre for the creative economy are:

Developing an integrated infrastructure for the flourishing of the production of creative people and the cultural and creative industries of products and services. In this context, the Authority launched the project to develop Al Quoz Creative Zone as a first stage. The zone will be an integrated creative area that provides a pioneering environment and a comprehensive system that meets all the needs of developing the creative sector in Dubai to compete with other cities. Other creative areas will be launched in the future.

New and innovative financing avenues: Building innovative financial instruments and financing facilities that direct investment into the creative economy, support creative entrepreneurs and the best ideas.

Engaging the creative community: Through the establishment of the Dubai Creators Network, which is a network of individuals and institutions working in the creative economy system, to ensure continuous communication with the creative community, identify its growth needs and unify efforts in the process of building the creative economy.

An integrated economic classification framework: through the 'Dubai Creative Pulse', a classification and measurement framework aimed at measuring the health of the creative economy and creating a dynamic system that enables Dubai to test its creative pulse by adopting comprehensive measures and data that monitor the health of the sector with international standards. The country's first-of-its-kind statistical study of the performance of the creative industries in the emirate during 2018 and 2019, which was conducted in cooperation with the Dubai Statistics Center, is the first fruit of this initiative.

Badri stressed that Dubai Culture has a clear strategy to support the creative economy and create an integrated system supported by incentives and financing programmes with the participation of its partners in the private and public sectors to encourage cultural and creative industries, meet the requirements of creators from all over the world, and provide thriving job opportunities that increasingly contribute to the enhancing the emirate's GDP.


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