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What to expect at Dubai Design Week 2020

Dubai Design Week makes its much-anticipated return this November with a special focus on Middle Eastern design

Dubai Design Week’s 2020 edition will present a multitude of events for everyone, from the avid designer to the art lover, focussing on a variety of disciplines, including architecture, interiors, multimedia, product design and graphic design. With a packed schedule of exhibitions, commissioned installations, talks, tours and workshops, the event is forging forward to make Dubai the region’s design capital.

Staged throughout the open-air, pedestrian setting of d3, outdoor installations from this year’s show will respond to the challenges arising from the requirement of social distancing. International initiatives will share insight into the creative community’s response to issues caused by the pandemic. Key displays will highlight the importance of wearing face masks, the impact of global lockdowns and the ever-growing need for clean sources of food and water within impoverished communities.

Panel discussions taking place during the event will dive into the emerging alternative structures and solutions that designers and creatives can adapt to and learn from in order to navigate new realities. Talks led by industry experts will also explore how societies, economies and industries are reeling from the impact of the crisis, with a special focus on the realm of art and design. 

Earth Hives, Latifa Saeed & Talin Hazbar

A regular highlight of the annual fair, workshops and masterclasses will be conducted as usual during the event, with the organisers working tirelessly behind the scenes to provide a safe learning space for everyone in attendance.

Sessions will be hosted exclusively by independent designers, creators and small businesses from the UAE in varying formats, including physical sessions with small gatherings on site at d3.

Creative enthusiasts of all ages and levels of experience are encouraged to attend as participants will have the opportunity to develop and enhance practical and creative design skills through making and exploring.

2020 fair highlights

MENA Grad Show

As well as supporting creative careers, Dubai Design Week also looks to the future with its Global Grad Show, which spotlights the next generation of innovators working towards a better planet. Leveraging the established platform, the 2020 edition of the fair introduces the MENA Grad Show – an exhibition of the best social impact innovation projects in the region, spanning the fields of science, design and technology. This year, the initiative received over 200 submissions from more than 35 universities in the Middle East and North Africa.

Downtown Design

In light of the pandemic, Downtown Design 2020 will take on a hybrid format, bringing the community together across physical and digital platforms. Spotlighting progressive design thinking, Downtown Design’s multimedia exhibition is titled ‘The Shape of Things to Come’. The showcase will feature conceptual work by the region’s architects and interior designers as they imagine our interactions with the environment and each other in the future, and also explore how we will live, work and play in a post-pandemic landscape.

Installation by Jawaher Alkhayyal


Translated as ‘doors’ in Arabic, Abwab is an annually remodelled exhibition dedicated to work commissioned from across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. For this year’s edition, Dubai Design Week has commissioned a singular landmark pavilion known as ‘Fata Morgana’ by Iraqi designer Hozan Zangana. Focusing on the framework of a modern-day city, Abwab 2020 features pillars symbolic for each of the seven emirates. The showcase addresses the ever-changing relationship between city dwellers and the public realm. The concept naturally incorporates social distancing, enabling visitors to have a safe experience while exploring this creative space.

Urban Commissions 2020

For the 2020 edition of the event, regional architects and designers were tasked with creating an innovative, multipurpose retail unit for a new outdoor market experience. The winning proposal titled ‘Basta’, created by emerging Emirati and Saudi architects Reema Almheiri and Lujain Alatiq, will be unveiled at the venue’s new pop-up market.

UAE Designer Exhibition

Offering designers a platform to strengthen their audience base and professional network in the community, Dubai Design Week will see emerging designers across an array of disciplines presenting their projects and ideas. Works on display will range from home accessories and jewellery to furniture as well as subjects of sustainability, material experimentation and craft innovation.

Fata Morgana, Generous Studio & Hozan Zangana

The Dubai Design Week Marketplace

A new, outdoor retail initiative, the Dubai Design Week Marketplace will bring together more than 60 of the best of Dubai’s artisans, creatives, entrepreneurs, small businesses and food scene. These vendors will provide a unique retail offering to visitors with locally sourced and handcrafted products across fashion, jewellery, homeware, beauty, lifestyle and food.

For more information, visit


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