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Silicon Valley has once set an example of a breeding ground for enterprise where technology and creativity merge to give birth to new products. Since the emergence of Silicon Valley, Californian business success stories have been inspiring others all across the globe to follow in their steps to create their very own digital zones. In 2000, the United Arab Emirates decided to use Silicon Valley as a blueprint to trigger and foster creative development and make the nation one of the most innovative in the world in the next couple of decades. This decision resulted in the creation of the Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (DCCA), which aimed at establishing Dubai as a global hub for knowledge-based industries. This paper will discuss the National Innovation Strategy and business activities and regulations under DCCA.
National Innovation Strategy
In 2014, Sheikh Mohammed confirmed the UAE National Innovation Strategy and outlined four development tracks for the next seven years during which the United Arab Emirates was to ramp up innovation and digital performance. First, the policymakers saw it critical for the country’s prosperity to establish and maintain a stimulating environment. DCCA and its business committees are in line with the first requirement since they fuel innovation by bringing together people and ideas and facilitating networking and collaboration (“National Innovation Strategy”). Second, the Strategy implies institutionalizing innovation and encourages government entities to deduce 1% from their revenues to support creative clusters (“National Innovation Strategy”).
Third, UAE seeks to attract foreign companies and investors to key sectors by establishing research centers, some of which are situated within UAE media zones under DCCA (“National Innovation Strategy”). Lastly, the country emphasizes the role of human capital in making progress and encourages talented individuals to concentrate on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“National Innovation Strategy”). Needless to say that their potential has all the chances to unfold and flourish when put in the stimulating environment of DCCA business zones and committees.
Business Committees and Dubai Design District
To reinforce Dubai’s high-ranking position among the world’s innovation hubs, TECOM Group governs eleven business committees under DCAA jurisdiction. The group has not only partnered with the government to help attain the goals for 2021 set by the Innovation Strategy but also has been a significant catalyst for many companies’ development (“Dubai Creative Clusters Authority”). As of 2019, TECOM Group’s business committees encompass purpose-built facilities and industry-specific infrastructure. Below is the exhaustive list of all the committees with a brief description of their role and specifics:
- Dubai Internet City
- Dubai Outsource City
- Dubai Media City
- Dubai Studio City
- Dubai Production City
- Dubai Knowledge Park
- Dubai International Academic City
- Dubai Science Park
- Dubai Design District
- Emirates Towers District
- Dubai Industrial Park.
Dubai Design District, otherwise known as d3, was established in 2013 to nurture local and international talent and unite their forces in perpetuating sustainable growth. D3 is unique in the way that it is part of the city and a creative ecosystem that surpasses what people usually expect from a business hub. The founders and creators of d3 wanted not only to welcome the best minds to an entrepreneurial environment but also to persuade them to stay. For that, they made the space not only liveable but also highly enjoyable. As of now, d3 is apt for work activities as well as entertainment since its vibrant nightlife, events, and diverse community are giving the district a unique voice and a spirit. Dubai Design District complies with the objectives set by the National Innovation Strategy by providing a stimulating environment. Moreover, it is a prime example of an urban area built using the Smart City principles, which is critical to creating a knowledge-based economy.
D3 seeks to aid aspiring artists and designers in their soul-searching by providing them with co-working space. D3’s office buildings have plenty of unfurnished work hubs so that every team can adjust them to their own taste and needs. Among the perks of working at D3 are a high-speed internet connection, daily cleaning, and of course, community engagement that ensures idea exchange and ongoing support. Many compare D3 to a university campus since everyone knows everyone and is eager to converse or give a helping hand. The residents of d3 come from all paths of life, and as they explain their views, design can apply to anything be it food, clothes, or online spaces. Others emphasize that while Dubai reflects the best that the Middle-Eastern culture has to offer, d3 feels incredibly international and is truly a place where East meets West.
As a media zone, d3 reaches out to its customer through numerous events taking place almost daily. For instance, pop-up shops showcase their products and attract new clients by organizing parties and lectures. The power of conviction relies on creators’ ability to elaborate their own philosophy. People are no longer merely looking for physical objects to interact with. Purchasers are overwhelmingly interested in exploring the world of ideas and what stands behind a shape, a color, or a pattern. For the same reason, to bring creators and customers together, d3 hosts art markets, which makes exquisite design pieces more accessible.
Dubai Design District boasts a strong online presence as it is active on almost every social media platform including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and others. Creators prefer to control the narrative around their life and activities in d3 and partake in projects such as a YouTube series showcasing one business’s accomplishments at a time. D3 attracts other media’s attention as well: in six years, many online magazines and platforms reached out to the founders and shared their opinions about the UAE’s ambitious venture. Among the local press, d3 was promoted given a platform by Time Out Dubai, Arab News, and Caterer Middle East. Western journalists, for instance, The Independent, chimed in on the conversation, discussing whether d3 attracts the right type of people (Wills). On many occasions, d3’s venues have been world-class celebrities top choice: for instance, in 2018, British singer Rita Ora chose the district for her first performance in the UAE (“Rita Ora Gears Up”). All in all, d3 contributes to the image of the UAE as a country supportive of innovation and offering the best conditions to the world’s most creative minds.
Business Committees Outside Dubai
Sharjah Media City (Shams) was launched in 2017 to help create and media businesses of the region to grow to their full potential. Shams covers a broad range of permitted and fostered business activities seeking to guide those who are only embarking on their entrepreneurial journey (“About Shams”). Ajman Media Free Zone is likely to be the country’s youngest creative cluster. It offers a variety of business packages to new companies with varying levels of mentorship and service provision (“About Ajman Media City”).
Creative City Fujairah was established shortly after DCCA was created and since then, has been home to numerous companies, helping them with licensing registration, visa, and immigration (“Services”). Lastly, another prime example of a successful creative cluster outside Dubai is Abu Dhabi Media Free Zone. The cluster ensures a clear and easy process of establishing a company, 100% foreign ownership, and fiscal benefits (“What We Do”).
Business Activities and Regulations
Since many companies see joining UAE free media zones as an amazing opportunity to fuel their businesses’ growth, the authorities need to put reasonable restrictions on who can enter the zone. In recent years, DCCA amended the rules defining eligibility and passed new regulations. As of now, a company wishing to work under one of the business committees’ roof needs to apply an Article of Association. The said Article is to include the company name and detailed information on the liability of its shareholders, commercial activities, duration of the company, and the amount of share capital in AED (Amereller). There is one more recent change to be heeded by potential residents. Whereas the old regulations obliged a company to have a director and a secretary, according to the new rules, a company is only eligible with one director and one general manager on board (Amereller). On top of that, founders need to express their understanding of the country’s business ethics and show their readiness, to be honest, and responsible.
Dubai Creative Clusters Authority operates in alignment with Sheikh Muhammad’s 2014 National Innovation Strategy. One of the tracks set by the Strategy encompasses the creation of stimulating entrepreneurial environments. In 2019, Dubai is proud to showcase its compliance with the plan as it boasts eleven business committees, each serving a specific purpose. Dubai Design District is a prime example of a creative environment that is not only liveable but also enjoyable. As a media zone, d3 interacts closely with the press and the outside world by building an online presence and organizing offline events. Dubai is not the only global hub in the UAE as some other cities including Ajman, Fujairah, Sharjah, and Abu-Dhabi have built their own media zones.
“About Ajman Media City Free Zone.” Ajman Media City Free Zone, 2019, Web.
“About Shams.” Sharjah Media City, 2018, Web.
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Amereller. “New Regulations Impact all Dubai Creative Cluster (DCC) Free Zone Entities.” Lexology. 2017, Web.
“Dubai Creative Clusters Authority.” Dubai Free Zones Council, n. d., Web.
“National Innovation Strategy.” The Official Portal of the UAE Government, 2018, Web.
“Rita Ora Gears Up to Perform in Dubai.” Arab News. 2019, Web.
“Services.” Creative City Fujairah, 2019, Web.
“What We Do.” Media Zone Authority, 2019, Web.
Wills, Kate. “Can Dubai’s Design District Attract the Right Type of Goatee Wearing Individualist?” The Independent, 2015, Web.