Dubai – MENA Herald: Dubai Exports, the export promotion agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) in Dubai, hosted the first ‘Dubai-Shanghai Design Dialogue’ in partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the Shanghai Municipality recently. The Design Dialogue is part of an ongoing effort by Dubai Exports to enhance the global competitiveness of UAE firms.

Saed Al Awadi, CEO of Dubai Exports commented: “We believe that in today’s world it is not sufficient to just assist firms to export their goods and services into foreign markets. As a trade promotion organization, we need to enhance the capabilities of our firms so that they can deliver their products and services better, faster and cheaper than their competitors. This millennium has already proved that companies that have a better designed product will succeed in the marketplace.”

The Dubai-Shanghai Design Dialogue explored key themes and was attended by representatives from governments, industry groups, academics, business leaders and small and medium sized firms in Dubai and Shanghai. The two sides also explored initiatives for greater collaboration between exporters of creative goods and services in their respective regions.

The creative economy is an important and growing part of the global economy and growth in the Asian design industry is faster than the global average. According to UNCTAD, global exports of creative goods and services — products such as arts and crafts, audiovisuals, books, design, films, music, new media, printed media, visual and performing arts, and creative services — more than doubled between 2002 and 2012 to reach AED 1,738 billion (US $473 billion).

Design industries including fashion, interior design and jewelry accounted for nearly 52% of creative goods exports. The industry is also gaining growing attention for its ability to generate income through trade and intellectual property rights and create new jobs involving higher occupational skills, particularly for small and medium sized enterprises.

“Global value chains imply that goods need to be delivered quickly from one point of production to the next and then eventually to the end customer. In today’s technologically advanced world consumers are not willing to wait and it is global value chains that must change and not the consumers. As an established export and re-export hub and now an emerging design hub, Dubai has the potential to be a key player in the creative economy,” said Al Awadi.

The dialogue discussed challenges that small firms face in the global world of producing short production runs, innovative packaging and design, in addition to areas where the economic focus of Dubai and Shanghai can be aligned to support growth of the design industry.

Chen Yuehua, Counsel, Shanghai Municipal Government, remarked: “We see considerable opportunities for firms in Dubai and Shanghai to work together and develop long term linkages”. Dubai has already stated its intention to be at the centre of the global Islamic economy. We hope that Dubai firms through collaboration with Chinese firms will be able to capitalise on the fast growing Islamic design market.”

Carolina Quintana from UNCTAD Creative Industries programme stated research has even shown that companies investing in design even outperform those that invest in technology. “Therefore, it makes sense for companies to invest in design not only for its financial returns but also for its ability to foster innovation and creativity. Today design has evolved considerably and modern design considers sustainability as a key component.”