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Middle East Fashion Council


Up-and-coming creatives are fast becoming the fuel behind the Arab World, forging a new identity for the region.

It can be universally agreed that creativity is the lifeblood of any city. In fact, many major cities have constructed their entire identities and appeal around this. London and New York have been long cashed in on the artists that gravitate to them for a taste of the fast life, and places like Berlin and Seoul are now increasingly synonymous which the emerging creative class. In Dubai, too, up-and-coming creatives are fast becoming the region’s true fuel

Of the many misconceptions about Dubai, perhaps the largest is that it’s a city built on excess but devoid of real culture, however, a cursory dig beneath the shiny facade unveils a layer many rarely venture to see. ”What I hate about Dubai is when people talk about it like it’s the money place. It’s like ‘Everyone has petrol in their backyard’ when a lot of people here are just trying to get by,” shares UAE-born Sonali MC and rapper, Freek, who grew up in Abu Dhabi before moving to Dubai. ”Not everyone is rich. Not everyone is sitting on a bank. We all have a story. We all struggle, just like everywhere else in the world.”

Simon Rubel Lo Gatto

Algerian skater, designer, and founder of fashion label Precious Trust, Wathek Allal, who abandoned his aviation degree to develop his brand, agrees. “Dubai is not looked at as a city where there are young kids who are designers or creatives doing things, it’s just looked at as a vacation place,” he says. “But there’s a lot of places here that are worth visiting that aren’t necessarily the most commercial places. There are a lot of people to look at here; to check out their stories and what they want to document or talk about or do or make.”

The struggle to be recognised in Dubai’s creative industries isn’t limited solely to being spotted by those visiting the city from afar, artists here need to work extra hard to even be noticed by the community that surrounds them. “It happens everywhere in the world, people didn’t really believe in artists from their country in the beginning,” Freek explains, although typically it has been harder for him to convince more established music scenes in Western countries that it’s worth taking a chance on Arabic Trap. “For me, it was difficult to actually make people believe in artists from this region. We have something. We have a story to tell. It doesn’t have to be their culture, we can speak about our culture in a great way.”

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