UAE to place creative and culture industries in the centre of future growth

Minister of Culture and Youth, Noura Al Kaabi, discusses the recently launched 10-year National Strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries

Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, at the The World Conference on Creative Economy. Victor Besa / The National

The cultural and creative sectors will play a key role in the UAE's development over the next 50 years, say two senior government ministers.

Appearing as part of the World Creative Conference on Economy at Expo 2020 Dubai on Wednesday, Minister of Culture and Youth, Noura Al Kaabi, and Minister of Economy, Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, shed more light on the UAE’s 10-year National Strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries, which was launched last week by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

Al Kaabi said the landmark move was the result of an 18-month consultation process including government ministries, and the public and private sectors.

"The strategy encompasses natural and cultural heritage, audiovisual and interactive media, books and the press, design, creative services and celebrations," she told panel moderator and The National's editor-in-chief Mina Al-Oraibi. She also said that each of the aforementioned "key pillars" are divided into various subsectors encompassing up to 90 separate cultural and creative fields.

From left, Mina Al-Oraibi, editor-in-chief of 'The National', Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Youth and Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy at the World Conference on Cultural Economies at Expo 2020 Dubai. Victor Besa / The National

A major aim of the policy framework, Al Marri said, is to place the UAE in a strong future economic position.

“Over the last 50 years the UAE transformed from seaports to airports and what I can describe today as a 'brainport', in that we are looking at ways to keep attracting creative industries and talented people,” he said. “It is said that the fuel for economies is data, but really it is talent and what we need to keep growing is more talent.”

The strategy aims to do that, Al Marri said, by evolving the UAE’s creative industries through a mix of infrastructure and providing strong intellectual protection rights.

Quote
Over the last 50 years the UAE transformed from seaports to airports and what I can describe today as a 'brainport', in that we are looking at ways to keep attracting creative industries and talented people
Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy

When it comes to the former, Al Marri explained that this is done through a growing number of completed infrastructure projects, including various media zones such as Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 and cultural hubs such as Louvre Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s Museum of the Future and the new Khor Fakkan Amphitheatre in Sharjah.

“The creative economy also needs people to feel a sense of ownership and over the last 18 months we looked at many legal reforms and building the right legal framework for that,” he said.

“And the cherry on top, I would say, is the freelance visa which can grant you a residency permit and you don't need a sponsor or to work for a company, for example, to open a bank account or get a [phone] card.”

Al Kaabi said under the strategy, the Culture and Youth Ministry will collaborate with the education counterpart to infuse a deeper and nuanced understanding of arts and culture in children from an early age.

"From early childhood education to high school, we need to embed what culture and what the creative industry is," she said. "It's about us understanding that these industries are part of our lives and can be a future job instead of the classic sectors that we knew of 10 years ago.”

While instruments are being developed to track the strategy’s aim to elevate the cultural and creative industries to rank among the top 10 most important in the UAE, Al Kaabi said the intangible effects are also important.

Whether influencing a paradigm shift in families to allow the next generation to enter the creative industry to employing well rounded talent, exposure to arts and culture can yield countless benefits.

“And this is one of the things that we learnt from the pandemic,” she said. “We learnt the importance and the appreciation of having art in our lives.”

This is a sentiment also shared by Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Al Mubarak in the conference's opening remarks. As well as the economic benefits on offer, he said the culture and creative industries effect on society is priceless.

"They enhance personal and community well-being and have a phenomenal power on liability and quality of life,” he said.

"They have become essential for supporting inclusive economic growth and advancing societies’ sustainable development, protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions.”

The World Conference on Creative Economy runs until December 9 at the Dubai Exhibition Centre, Expo 2020 Dubai. For more information, go to wcce.ae

Updated: December 9th 2021, 7:28 AM