Hot seat: Rami Farook Rahimtulla

Dubai-based gallery owner Rami Farook Rahimtulla chats

Hot seat, The Knowledge

Every year the British Council run an international award programme called Young Creative Entrepreneur (YCE). This year, UAE-based Rami Farook Rahimtulla has reached the finals of the Young Design Entrepreneur part of the YCE programme. Why? This young Emirati is the founder and director of Traffic, a 7,000 sq. ft. design store, gallery and studio in Al Barsha used as a venue to exhibit design in unconventional ways, as well as to host lectures, workshops and screenings. Additionally, there is a reference library for designers, and a bookshop café in development. Rahimtulla will go to the UK in mid-September on an all-expenses trip to compete for the international title against eight other finalists, while also meeting leaders of the UK design sector.

What made you decide to start Traffic?
In 2005 I realised that there weren’t enough design spaces in the region so I started developing the concept. In 2006 I settled on a cultural commercial organisation with a design store, gallery and library – then a studio was later added.

How does it feel to be representing Emiratis on such a high- profile global scale?
I’m very proud as it’s the first time I’ve represented the country internationally. It’s something I still need to get my head around! The competition must have been tough – were you confident about winning? Also, did you think anyone else would win? We’ve been very active in promoting design in the region, and, with our vertical integration method (‘design, build, exhibit’), I knew my chances of winning were high. So yes, I was confident.

What excites you most about the coming trip to the UK for the finals of the competition?
What excites me mainly is getting to know more about the established educational institutes, manufacturing facilities and design processes.

Do you think you’ll bring home the title of International Young Design Entrepreneur Award?
Inshallah [or ‘God willing’ in Arabic].

What do you hope to take away from this experience?
It’s not every day that you get to represent your country at a global level so I definitely hope to bring some national pride back. But my focus is also to bring back what I learn about education, production and process and to pass it on to others here.

What exactly do you get from the competition?
The experience and a cash prize, both to be invested back into the community.

What else can we hope to see from you in the future? Now that Traffic is a success and is making a name for itself, what’s next?
We want to continue developing our multi-disciplined studio (graphic, industrial, interior, events, interactive), pushing for design education and to launch our own design label.

Do you have any words of advice for any other young entrepreneurs?
Have a plan, stay positive and always look for opportunities.
Traffic (04 341 8494, Saratoga Bldg, behind Tamweel, nr Mall of Emirates, Sat-Thu, 10am-8pm. For more on the competition, see

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