Dubai Design Week 2018 guide: the region’s biggest art festival

All the exhibits, competitions and Facebook workshops

Dubai Design Week 2018 guide: the region’s biggest art festival

Dust off your chalk box, wash out your paint pots and get ready to brush up on your art – Dubai Design Week is returning for its fourth edition this week.

More than 230 events will run from Monday, November 12 to Saturday, November 17.

Last year, more than 60,000 people attended and, with 20 percent more things to see and do this time around, that number is only expected to grow. Facebook is even here to help connect people, artists and communities around the world.

Here’s your quick guide on where to go, what not to miss and how to get involved.

What is it?
Dubai Design Week, the region’s largest creative arts festival, was launched in 2015 under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-Chairman of the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, and in partnership with Dubai Design District and supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority. It aims to celebrate artists from across the UAE and wider Gulf region, as well as international talent. Many events, workshops, talks et al are free to attend while some classes are paid for. Primarily, the main action will take place in d3, however there are activities held in Dubai Media City, Knowledge Village, Al Quoz, Jumeirah and Sharjah as well.

What are the exhibit and installation highlights?
First and foremost, social network juggernaut Facebook will be on the ground each day hosting customised workshops and seminars specifically devised to celebrate the Arab creative community. Head along to find out how to utilise the platform to connect with like-minded communities.

Downtown Design welcomes more than 175 premium design brands from around the world and will also showcase the Middle East’s brightest talent – think limited edition and bespoke fashion collections.

You’ll find 150 of the best projects submitted by 100 of the world’s top design and technology universities and emerging programmes at the Global Grad Show 2018. Work includes life-changing inventions by grads that impacts on the world at large through solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems.

Five dedicated pavilions in d3 will house Abwab, the exhibition celebrating design from the region. Under the theme Between the Lines, designers from five communities Amman, Beirut, Dubai, Eastern Provinces of KSA and Kuwait City will produce design experiences for cultural exchange.

UAE Design Stories: The Next Generation from The Emirates showcases eight of the UAE’s brightest talents. It is curated by Emirati product designer Khalid Shafar. Participants were given historic photographs of the UAE and surrounding region and asked to recreate them with a modern twist.

From RAK to DRAK will see three designers, Amal Haliq, Faissal El-Malak and Khalid Mezaina, look at three commercial businesses before developing a new product for each ProtoPieces is an exhibition of furniture work designed by 12 students of the College of Architecture Art and Design at the American University of Sharjah.

Circadian Light Synthesis will explore the human circadian rhythm and our relationship with natural light – from the sun and moon.

A giant jigsaw puzzle inspired by oriental printing will get visitors interacting with it all week while Parametric Surfaces will be an interactive installation that combines sculpture and augmented reality.

Who will win what?
Around 450 entries were submitted for the Audi Innovation Award – which set the challenge of “Connections” for designers in the region. On Tuesday, November 13 judges will announce the winner of the US$25,000 (Dhs92,000) prize.

On the same day, the Urban Commissions 4.0 winner will also be revealed. This year’s theme was “Water Feature” and is annual contest held as part of the Dubai Design Week. Designers living in the UAE were asked to promote local manufacturing and resources to produce one item of urban furniture with a budget of Dhs50,000. The winning design will be installed permantly in d3.

Similarly, Design 100, which asked UAE designers to create a piece of furniture or functional object for the chance of having 100 replicas made, will be revealed as well. The winning product will be on sale at the festival and all proceeds will go to Dubai Cares in support of Syrian refugees.

How can I get involved?
A range of talks and panelists will take to The Main Stage and address a diverse range of subjects including sustainability, safeguarding culture and what the future looks like. Highlights include international innovator Daan Roosegaarde, globally renowned Italian designer Paola Navone and Arab satirist Karl Sharro.

Global design experts including award-winning designers Ini Archibong, Marc Ange, Matthew McCormick and Martyn Lawrence Bullard will headline the programme of “The Forum” at Downtown Design.

Workshops for professionals as well as the public will take place. Re:Urban Studio will host masterclasses for pros while visitors of all ages, experience and ability can try their hand at modelling, sculpting, weaving or sketching in workshops held at the pop-up Making Space site.
Prices vary (many exhibitions, talks and installations are free to attend). Nov 12-17. Multiple locations including d3, Knowledge Village, Jumeirah and Sharjah. For a full schedule of what’s going on, visit

Dubai Design Week

This is the fourth edition of Dubai Design Week and the biggest to date

The number of events taking place across six days

The US dollars up for grabs in the Audi Innovation Award

The number of people who visited last year’s festival, with many more expected this time

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