Creative Industries Sector in the United Arab Emirates

Creative Industries consists of a number of sub sectors (Advertising, Animation, Architecture, Computer Games, Crafts, Design & Interiors, Digital Media, Experience & Attractions, Fashion, Film, Music, Performing arts, Publishing and Television) offering a mixed bag of opportunities in the country.

Market overview

The UAE ranks high among the countries in the region in terms of business environment and relative openness. It is recognised as a regional trading hub and a launch pad for companies looking to do business in the Middle East and North Africa region. The UAE economy has achieved much diversification, gradually shifting focus away from oil & gas which remains an area of strength. The diversification strategy has paved the way for large scale construction, infrastructure, retail and cultural projects. Salary levels remain relatively high and tourists’ inflow has been steadily rising over the years. Besides, the UAE is host to a young population which is reflected in the spending patterns.

The country offers itself as a lifestyle destination attracting expats and tourists alike, boosting retail and hospitality business. All of this is supported by excellent infrastructure and transport networks.

Key opportunities

  • Design Services for ongoing projects in commercial, cultural and residential space including supply chain opportunities in interiors segment.

  • Franchise opportunities for UK Luxury brands in the ever increasing retail space in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

  • Film and commercial production and post production opportunities across various sectors.

  • Opportunities for artists in the high end art and collectibles segment.

  • Entertainment concepts for visitor attraction centres including large retail environment or stand alone theme parks or entertainment hubs.

Some mega projects in the UAE currently ongoing include Saadiyat Island (Mixed Use Development), and MBR City.

Saadiyat Island is TDIC’s (Tourism Development and Investment Corporation) flagship project in Abu Dhabi. The project aims to create a mixed use development including residential, commercial, hospitality, retail and cultural aspects. The museums planned include Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Besides, the plan includes a Maritime Museum, and a Performing Arts centre.

Mohammed Bin Rashid City or MBR City is a mixed use development named after the Ruler of Dubai and Prime Minister of UAE, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The project aims at creating a ‘city’ within Dubai and will comprise retail space, hotels and cultural centres.

Latest export opportunities – Creative & Media

Latest export opportunities – UAE

Getting into the market

The route to market varies according to specific sub sectors. In general, a local partner, a distributor or an agent is required to do business in the UAE. Alternatively, a foreign company can choose to set up in one of the free zones which offer 100% foreign ownership.

Procurement in public sector is based on formal bidding process. It is important to pre-qualify for major projects. Most public sector clients prefer that suppliers have a local presence.

More about doing business in UAE


Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).

To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists based overseas – or contact your local international trade team.

Contact your local international trade team

UKTI Events

UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.

Latest events – Creative & Media

Major Events

INDEX Exhibition – May 2014

The Hotel Show – September 2014

Useful links

More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters

Sectors: Creative & Media
Countries: United Arab Emirates
Export Action Plan