Dubai has always been in the forefront in the Middle East when it comes to innovative business ideas. From the 1970s, when the Jebel Ali port was constructed, through the 80s, when the foundations of the Emirates airlines were laid, and then early into the 21st century when it created niche “Free Trade Zones” and opened up it’s real estate market, Dubai plans have always been met with skepticism, mainly because they have been so ambitious. But when Jebel Ali becomes one of the busiest ports in the region, Dubai Airport becomes the busiest in the world, and the Free Trade Zones meet unprecedented success, we start believing that some minds do have that far-sighted vision that most of us lack.Dubai Design District may just prove to be another such feather in Dubai’s crowded cap.
D3, as its called, is a Free Trade Zone dedicated to fostering the growth of fashion, design, art and luxury industries in this region. Apt, since Dubai has become the preferred shopping destination for a catchment are of over two billion people from East Asia, the Indian subcontinent and Africa. The region has a huge appetite for fashion, and the country is home to over 180 different nationalities. So on paper, D3 does look like a winner from the word go. The masterplan envisions a vibrant office and retail setup, complete with residences and five-star hotels, a convention centre, a long waterfront, and even an educational institution. In short, a self-contained city.
The Free Zone comes under the umbrella of TECOM, which successfully continues to manage similar cluster Free Zones like the Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City and Knowledge Village among others. This brings to the table the advantage of clear rules and regulations, a detailed activity list, and multiple hassle-free options of company formation. Clients can incorporate both as individuals as well as corporations (Free Zone Establishments and companies) and even branches/subsidiaries of parent companies based elsewhere, and 100% foreign ownership is permissible. There are three basic office space options, mainly based on the view (from courtyard views at AED 110/sq.ft. to Burj Khalifa views at AED 165/sq.ft.) and sizes starting from around a 1000 sq.ft. The Free Zone would also, in time, offer manufacturing options so that companies can offer “Made in UAE” products as well.
D3 also has the usual tax holiday (50 years) benefits that most free zones in Dubai offer.
So who would want to set up in D3? Well, anybody from the fashion/art/design world really. I’m talking fashion retailers, luxury brands, art galleries, freelance artists and contractors, manufacturers, e-commerce portals, designers…to mention a few.
Why would you want to do it? A huge tourist market, a vibrant (and deep pocketed) domestic market, stable country conditions, and fantastic taxation benefits. The centres of world fashion – London, New York, Paris, Tokyo…and now Dubai?
Knowing Dubai, don’t be surprised if they pull it off sooner than you expect!