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arab luxury world 2014: Dubai Design District on track for Q1 2015 launch

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‘The project will hand over four to five buildings by December 2014’

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June 4, 2014 3:49 by



By Sidra Tariq

The Dubai Design District (d3), an upcoming hub for designers and creative minds, is on track for its launch in Q1 2015, according to its senior business development manager, Maitha Al Suwaidi.

“The handover of four to five buildings will happen at the end of December this year. A lot of designers have started booking their spaces and planning,” she adds, while speaking at a panel session, entitled: New Talent Challenges and Opportunities, at the arab luxury world conference that concluded yesterday (Tuesday, June 3) at The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi.

Plans to establish the district were announced last year by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, with the aim to develop the emirate’s fashion, design and luxury sectors.

The project has received great uptake from designers, she adds. “We really underestimated the whole project and the appetite of the market. We have been getting a lot of support from designers. It is challenging, but the support we got from [them] not only in terms of giving their feedback with the master plan in the beginning, but also helping us shape the project right now, has been very rewarding for us. We have learned a lot of things.

“Mostly, we have been getting a lot of support from designers locally and regionally, but a lot of people internationally are also interested in looking for the next move in the region,” she says.

The panel also featured regional designers that shared their experiences and gave advice to budding designers and business owners.

Aiisha Ramadan, who owns a fashion label under her first name, advises aspiring designers to avoid doing consignments with buyers. “[Dealing with] buyers was the trickiest part for me. I’m quite sure every designer in the UAE faces that. Working a consignment is a very bitter-sweet relationship between buyers and designers, because they make you and break you. While they don’t necessarily sell much, they want you [to be] exclusive, they want a consignment and if it doesn’t sell, it is returned to you. However, when we are lucky, we are lucky. Some stores sell a lot more than others. But still, it is a consignment and not a done deal.”

Ahmed El Sayed, who launched a new fashion brand, House of Nomad, with his business partner Saleh El Banna four months ago, recommends designers to make their businesses full-time jobs, instead of working on them on the side: “I used to be an online fashion editor and Saleh was in family business. We reached a point where we had to stop everything and now it is our full-time job – which makes you even more hungry to make it more successful.”

El Banna adds that it is important to maintain a friendly relationship with clients.

Nathalie Trad, owner of Nathalie Trad Designs FZ-LLC, says: “Stay true to your brand DNA. Don’t lose sight of where you started and what the story of your brand is. Be curious, reconsider everything you see and don’t take anything for granted.”

While Al Suwaidi encourages collaboration among designers, Karoline Huber, brand director of IWC Schaffhausen Middle East, says: “Define who you are today and where you want to be a year from now, then take that time to look back and [see how your] objectives and achievements line up. Then go to the next year, redefine, make little adjustments, but ensure you evaluate your performance, development and evolution and take the time to celebrate it. That will give you energy to go beyond.”



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