By Catherine Belbin

Downtown Design, Dubai Design Week and Dubai Expo are scheduled to run concurrently in November, delivering an inspirational, world-class design and architectural feast to the region. This trio of global events will secure the UAE's position as the region’s design capital.

Now in its ninth year, Downtown Design is the main highlight of the annual city-wide Dubai Design Week, which creates a fusion of diverse design events and is, according to the BBC, “the Middle East's most influential design event”. To heighten the excitement, Dubai Expo is expected to be a magnet for the world's leading architects and designers who have contributed to its 200+ state-of-the-art, futuristic pavilions. Expo is an architectural hub for some of the most innovative ideas and concepts in the industry – the perfect complement to Downtown Design and Dubai Design Week. A 'who's who' of the top architects will be in town to add to the creative ambiance.

At the heart of Dubai Design Week is Downtown Design (8-12 November 2021), the region’s only fair dedicated to luxury interiors. Downtown Design and Dubai Design Week are sisters to Art Dubai, the region's leading art fair, with all three being managed by the pioneering Art Dubai Group.

The positive response to the recently held Art Dubai 2021 – the first established international art fair of the Covid era – showed that Dubai has the knowledge and ability to manage large-scale, in-person events successfully and safely. Having attracted over 18,000 visitors in new infrastructures built to limit capacity, Art Dubai’s success was attributed to the minutiae of details that the organizers put into place to ensure that the event exceeded Covid health and safety protocols. Global media networks from CNN, WSJ and the Financial Times hailed the organizers for ensuring the smooth operation of the fair, that demonstrated how in-person fairs could still safely operate.

Similarly, Dubai Design Week 2020 was the first in-person event in the UAE since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020; consequently, the organisers are now recognised over the world for their expertise in safely hosting major in-person events under pandemic conditions.

This year’s Downtown Design is being planned with meticulous Covid protocols in place, and will once again occupy its iconic custom-built 14,000-square metre tent located on the water's edge in Dubai Design District (d3), the hub of this year’s Dubai Design Week. With an updated layout, restricted entry timings and host of other safety measures, Downtown Design's exhibitors and attendees can be assured that essential safety measures will be followed.

Downtown Design is known for showcasing original and high-quality international and regional design brands and, as a result, the fair attracts top-tier industry audiences, including key architects, interior designers, specifiers, hoteliers and developers, as well as public visitors from throughout the Middle East, Africa, South Asia and beyond.

A new format for this year's fair will include dedicated sections across key industry sectors: furniture, lighting, bathrooms and kitchens, materials and finishes, and accessories and soft furnishings. Downtown Editions – the boutique showcase for limited-edition and bespoke design – will again provide a platform for independent designers and studios to show their work to both trade and consumer audiences.

The section for country pavilions will also be expanded for the 2021 edition, with a 50 per cent increase in countries taking part as Dubai continues to act as a catalyst for a new approach to post-pandemic exhibitions, and to set global standards that the 'new- normal' demand.

The united strengths of Dubai Design Week, Downtown Design and the Expo later this year will contribute to making the emirate a world-class design capital, showcasing the best of design and architecture on the eve of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the United Arab Emirates.

More information about the programmes, events and exhibitors will be revealed in our monthly newsletters.

Save the dates:

Dubai Design Week: 8-13 November 2021

Downtown Design: 8-12 November 2021