UAE's best universities: Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation

The National's guide to universities in the Emirates continues with this Dubai institute founded in 2018

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As thousands of final-year pupils in the UAE submit their applications to universities, we take a look at some of the best higher education options in the country and what they have to offer

Where is it from?


When was it founded?


What is it?

Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation is described as the region’s first and only university dedicated to design and innovation. It offers the region’s first multidisciplinary design degree (bachelor of design). It is a private, non-profit university, accredited by the Ministry of Education.

It says it prepares students to respond to a rapidly changing world with transferable skills that are cross-disciplinary and problem-solving by design.

Where is it based?

Dubai Design District, which is described as a creative platform from Tecom Group dedicated to design, fashion, architecture, art and retail.

What are examples of the fees?

Dh98,000 ($26,680) plus VAT annually, including studio fees.

What subject areas does it teach?

The institute offers a four-year bachelor of design course that, it says, “offers students a unique opportunity to participate in cross-disciplinary coursework across all four years of the degree”.

“Based on our studio concept of ‘learning by doing’, the coursework focuses on visual literacy and technological fluency,” it says.

Students choose two areas of focus from a total of four: product design, strategic design management, multimedia design and fashion design.

“The degree programme is based on visualisation, creative problem solving, design-thinking and fabrication with sustainability and cross-disciplinary work embedded throughout,” the university says.

“A project-based methodology through our core studio classes is firmly grounded in design and problem solving.

“The first-year design foundation experience is based on visualisation, problem-solving, design-thinking, fabrication, and sustainable design concepts.

“Second and third-year students work across their two chosen disciplines through a studio, workshop and lecture-based coursework.

“The final year at DIDI is dominated by thesis prep and a thesis project, where students experience modular coursework designed to support the individual development of their thesis proposal.

“DIDI’s four year-long programme allows students to seamlessly blur the boundaries between traditional fields of design, increasing their ability to practice empathy, solve complex problems, think critically, and develop a heightened level of emotional intelligence.”

Where is it ranked globally?

It is not listed in major international rankings.

Who goes there?

There are more than 140 design students representing more than 20 nationalities. Of the students, 80 per cent are UAE residents and 31 per cent are Emiratis.

Who has attended the university?

Its first intake of students graduated this year. They completed the four-year programme covering fashion design, product design, multimedia design and strategic design management.

A word from the dean, Hani Asfour

“Design is the discipline of the day and of the future. In the context of a rapidly evolving digital world, designers are trained to humanise technology, make innovation visible and make digital experiences desirable," he said.

“DIDI’s curriculum, developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design, merges design with technology and strategy, so from the get-go our students are treated like entrepreneurs, with a focus on hands-on learning and direct implementation of solutions.

“Our students master complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity, the top three skills [as stated by the World Economic Forum] required to succeed in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“In their final year, students pursue their passion and dreams to design and develop their individual capstone projects. Selected projects have a chance to join our affiliate institution, In5, to accelerate and incubate their ideas and match them with investors.”

Updated: September 08, 2022, 4:00 AM