North, South, East and West. Dubai | Sharjah

From Riyadh to Johannesburg, via Sharjah, Dubai, and on to Mexico City and São Paulo, design speaks a single language: tradition and craftsmanship, on the one hand, and research, innovation and inclusion, on the other. These are the key words capable of bringing otherwise distant worlds closer together

Suhail Design / Remm Al Bustani, Downtown Design, Dubai

The United Arab Emirates were the first in the Gulf to develop design-related cultural strategies. If today Dubai is a global creative capital, this is partly owed to the Dubai Design District, d3, a creative eco-system dedicated to design, fashion, art and architecture by the TECOM Group PJSC, and to Downtown Design, Middle East’s leading fair for original and high-quality. According to Mette Degn-Christensen, Director of Dubai Design Week: «What is quite unique to Downtown Design is that we are a boutique fair and plan to remain so, and an edited fair – which means that the selection remains relevant to our audiences as well as neighbouring exhibitors based on content, context and objectives, and that as essentially a design trade show we still are a cultural event and act as a platform for design talent, young studios or individual creatives to gain exposure and meet the relevant audiences in order to establish their studios and further their careers in design».

Thaya collection, Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council

Interesting things are also happening at Sharjah. Such as the Architecture Triennial, due to take place in November 2023 and this year will be curated by Nigerian architect Tosin Oshinowo, or the work of the Irthi Contemporary Crafts Council, a pioneering organisation based in Sharjah that promotes cultural and creative initiatives to help empower women, with the aim of developing a sustainable economy to make the most of the craft heritage of the United Arab Emirates.