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Dubai Boutique a Haven for Emirati Artisans and Designers

Melanie Swan, The National
August 04, 2013

A local boutique is doing its part to promote Emirati talent, from furniture makers to artists, jewellery makers to fashion designers.

O Concept Boutique in Jumeirah, owned by the Emirati businessman Omar bin Khediya, has just finished "Emirati Month," which offered local artisans a chance to showcase their talent.

Each week, the store hosted different designers to meet clients and take on the role of sales person for their own products.

It was much needed, said Annalisa Trentadue, the store manager.

"It really gives them experience of sales and meeting clients, as well as meeting other designers who they can share experiences with," she said. "They are growing in confidence and feel more empowered through this. They can set up their displays in the store in a way that really shows off their inspirations and reflects more of themselves."

It was the second year the store had hosted the event.

"It's important to have this platform," Ms. Trentadue said. "It's hard for them to actually take their products to the public."

The numbers of designers displaying work in the boutique-an arts space with everything from shoes to paintings-is growing.

"In Dubai there's not a lot of opportunities for them. You go to the malls and the big stores and everywhere it's the same big top brands, but there are a lot of great talents out there hidden away, just needing to be given that extra bit of help."

Suqrat bin Bisher, 23, is from Dubai and now lives in Ras Al Khaimah. Although he works full-time as an event manager for Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, in his free time he makes his own furniture. Bisher's latest project, a handcrafted wooden table that has already sold, took him three months to make.

"Emiratis need such support," he said. "There is not so much space for them to exhibit their work here. In places like the Dubai International Finance Centre the work is much more international, but these artists, designers and craftspeople need a place to showcase their work, a platform, and this requires support in the community.

"There is a lot of local talent out there, but people don't know how to get themselves and their work seen."
Bisher said more awareness of existing events where locals could show their work could be created by better publicity in the UAE, not just abroad.

"It's not just about location provision or financial support, but about raising awareness to give these people the opportunity to submit their work for showcasing," he said. "It would be great if there were a more organised way of people finding this information, such as the Dubai calendar."

Suhail Al Shukaili, 24, is a fashion designer. His first line of men's swimwear was part of the Emirati Month collection. He said such showcasing is vital for all kinds of creative artists.

"There are talents here in Dubai and putting the spotlight on them is important through events like this," he said. "It's been really good for many of us up and coming designers to have this platform."

The rise of Emiratis in creative industries, he said, is because of Dubai's acceptance of creativity.

"If you have an idea, you can produce it. There's a market for creativity."