Dubai Design District, or d3, is the latest in a series of well-planned initiatives of the Dubai Government. Fashion and design are important cornerstones of this growing economy, and also for the region. The GCC luxury, fashion and interior sector is estimated to have topped US$ 15 billion during 2013 with the UAE alone accounting for US$ 6 billion. The growth in tourism on account of the Expo 2020 will also help this industry to take a leap towards becoming the fashion and design capital of the Middle East.
d3 has a unique dual-licensing regime, wherein an entity can take up two licenses, one from d3 as a freezone company and the second from Dubai DED as a mainland entity. For those who are not aware, a freezone company cannot conduct business or retail in the mainland directly, and hence has to either appoint distributors or set up a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in mainland Dubai. This dual license will help potential registrants to save on costs that they would otherwise incur if they had to license separately.
d3 issues licenses in fashion design and marketing, manufacturing, architectural design, luxury, interiors and e-commerce, among others. Service licenses come in at around US$ 4,000 per annum, and freelance permits at US$ 2,000. Entities wishing to incorporate in the zone can choose from office spaces, showrooms and light manufacturing units, although its just office spaces that are currently available. Costs range from US$ 30-45 per square foot, and minimum office sizes are around 800 sq.ft.
To summarize, the Dubai Design District presents a wonderful opportunity to both startup and established fashion and design brands in the region. The d3 community will grow in time to include integrated living spaces as well, where people can live, work and collaborate to create.