Dubai’s creative sector generates $10.7 billion in 2019, says new report

Dubai’s cultural and creative sector has generated more than Dh37 billion ($10.7 billion) in output and employed more than 108,000 individuals in 2019 alone, across all the key industries, according to a new report published by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture).

The number of people engaged in the creative economy represents 3.6 percent of the total workforce in the city, according to the report.

The design industry, meanwhile, contributed over Dh15.6 billion ($4.25 billion) in output to the Dubai economy in 2019, employing over 51,000 individuals.

In November, Dubai Culture launched a first-of-its-kind report entitled ‘Creative Dubai: Dubai’s growing cultural industries’ to monitor the performance of the cultural and creative industries sectors by highlighting the creative economy and providing a comprehensive analytical view on the reality of cultural industries in the emirate and exploring ways to advance them to new heights.

This report helps enhance the emirate’s position in the sector in various ways, most prominently by emphasizing the broad prospects for developing its creative industries, the potential it provides to support the city’s cultural diplomacy, and its ability to attract global talent and investments.

“Creative Dubai reveals that a clear opportunity exists to strengthen the connections between culture and commerce. Investing in the sector, supplying greater educational opportunities, and providing a strong platform for local talents to flourish in cultural and creative professions, are all necessary for empowering Dubai’s creative economy to realize its highest potential,” wrote Sheikha Latifa Bint Mohammed Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, in a message carried in the report.

“The Creative Dubai report seeks to address two main points: Why the growth of the culture sector is essential for Dubai?; and what the reality of Dubai’s creative and cultural industries look like today and the needed steps towards future growth?,” are the words of Hala Badri Director General of Dubai Culture, in the report’s foreword.

Rise in global prominence

Dubai’s rise in global prominence as a culturally important city reflects the targeted investments made in the culture sector to significantly expand its cultural and creative industries (CCI).

In a comparison of worldwide Google searches from 2004 through 2020, searches for ‘Dubai Heritage’ alongside ‘Dubai Culture’ and ‘Dubai Arts’ during this period suggest that broad interest in the emirate’s cultural fabric is growing.

In the last 20 years, the emirate has exploded as a regional cultural hub, attracting thousands of creatives, patrons, and professionals, including entrepreneurs who have launched businesses in Free Zones and dedicated clusters/districts, such as Dubai Design District, Alserkal Avenue, and Dubai Media Cluster.

The TECOM Group, a member of Dubai Holding, reports that the number of registered creative freelancers increased by 446 percent between 2016 and 2020.

As of 2019, Dubai is home to 13,144 companies operating in the Creative Economy.

To maintain momentum in the wake of COVID-19, Dubai has agilely responded by introducing a new Cultural Visa tailored for freelancers.

An enabling environment – of regulatory, financial, and other supports – has allowed for a vibrant culture scene to take root and thrive.

Globally recognized art fairs and cultural festivals, a well-established gallery scene, innovation-focused creative incubators, a burgeoning film industry, and independent theatre scene, and the addition of striking new museums and libraries, illustrate the expansion and diversification of the emirate’s offering.

Prioritization of the culture sector has also led to increased, and more varied cultural programming, myriad government and industry-led initiatives, and the integration of art into public spaces, all combining to reach broader audiences and to offer greater opportunities for participation in cultural life for residents and visitors alike.

Alongside developing arts and culture, Dubai has capitalized on its cultural heritage. An unwavering commitment to restoring historic sites, revitalizing older neighborhoods, and introducing programs that preserve traditional practices and customs, has helped to protect intangible cultural heritage for future generations.

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