Future of the UAE's culture sector depends on innovation, report says

Dubai Culture and Dubai Future Foundation look at how the arts can flourish during the pandemic

Floor markings reminding people to stay two metres apart at Alserkal Avenue in Dubai. Alserkal Avenue

The UAE's cultural and creative sectors must be flexible and innovative to continue growing in a post-pandemic world, a new report says.

Future Trends: Culture and the Creative Sector – released by Dubai Future Foundation in partnership with Dubai Culture and Arts Authority – looks at the restrictions caused by the pandemic and the impact it has had on the sector.

“In light of these exceptional circumstances, it is imperative that all those in charge of the sector in Dubai and the UAE intensify efforts and take measures to develop mechanisms and solutions to support the creative community and enable it to ensure its continuity and prosperity in the future, especially for small companies and independent entrepreneurs working in this sector,” said Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority.

Hala Badri, director general of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. Courtesy Dubai Culture

Badri said that Dubai Culture is conducting studies to see how the challenges facing the creative community can be relieved.

“These studies also aim to create innovative solutions that contribute to financing and supporting the continuity of innovators, emerging companies, and cultural and creative entrepreneurs, while also attracting new talents. Our co-operation with the Dubai Future Foundation in issuing this report is part of this effort," she says.

According to Badri, it's important to develop policies and legislation that would protect the rights of artists and creators, while ensuring the highest standards of intellectual property.

"Our efforts in that regard are progressing, and we are working to build a comprehensive and sustainable system to develop creativity in Dubai,” she says.

Khalfan Belhoul, chief executive of Dubai Future Foundation, agrees that technological tools – such as moving art gallery sales online or museums hosting virtual tours – offer new opportunities to gain a more global audience.

"This also allows individuals interested in exploring cultural experiences in a digital realm and those unable to travel due to Covid-19 restrictions the option of trying out such experiences easily," he says.

He says the pandemic has underlined the urgent need to accelerate tech-focused apps for all sectors.

12-12-17  Khalfan Belhoul_GOV

The report also touches on the importance of financial support from the government. In May, the UAE's Ministry of Culture and Youth launched the National Creative Relief Programme, providing Dh4.6 million ($1.2m) of grants within the country's creative sector. Similar initiatives were also introduced in the UK, Australia, South Africa and Sweden.

Back in April, Dubai Culture also joined forces with Art Jameel to launch an initiative that gave micro-grants to 75 artists.

The report recommends that governments continue to pledge financial support, such as rent relief, utility bill support, licence-fee waivers, support grants, customs and VAT-fee waivers. The goal is to ensure the continuity of creative talent and support the creative community.

To read the full report, click here.