DDFC MENA Design Education Outlook report shows a need for nine-fold increase in design graduates

RS_MENA Design Education Outlook launch panel

A report that provides insight into the design education landscape of the MENA region has been unveiled by the Dubai Design and Fashion Council (DDFC) in collaboration with Dubai Design District (d3). The MENA Design Education Outlook is a first of its kind report, focusing on six key design markets in the region including the UAE, Qatar, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait.

Highlighting the growth of the design sector in the region, the report establishes the need for atleast 30,000 design graduates by the year 2019, which is a nine-fold increase of young designers, in order to achieve a sustainable growth of the design sector in the region.


MENA Design Education Outlook infographic


The total value of the MENA design industry is predicted to reach US$55 billion by 2019, with organisations anticipating a 20 per cent annual increase in their design headcount, especially in fresh graduates, over the next two to three years.

The report highlights the barriers that may be a potential hindrance in this growth, such as the lack of dedicated design education facilities and design education offerings as well as low awareness of design courses currently available.

It also identifies the need for a blueprint for educators and policymakers to shape the design education offerings in a manner that is more aligned with industry needs as well as the need to establish fabrication labs to equip designers with hands-on skills throughout their education.

“We hope that the study will help educators and policymakers alike to identify industry trends and support them in developing curriculums, courses and policies to nurture the talent pool in the region,” said Dr. Amina Al Rustamani, chairperson of DDFC.

RS_Dr. Amina Al Rustamani speaking at the launch of the MENA Design Education Outlook

Dr. Amina Al Rustamani speaking at the launch of the MENA Design Education Outlook.

“In order to retain and nurture regional talent it is important to provide an environment in which upcoming talent can flourish. This environment also needs to promote collaboration within the design community and with the wider economy,” the report states.

“There is some evidence of this within the MENA region, particularly in Beirut where a culture of co-working spaces and collaboration amongst designers has developed. There are several challenges to pursuing a creative career in the MENA region, including the lack of early stage involvement in design as well as unclear career pathways, with many programs that are available in international design education hubs not being available in this region.”

The report also looks at key international design education hubs such as the USA, the UK, Singapore and The Netherlands to identify the numerous opportunities for the region to adopt in order to build a stronger global reputation for design education.

“Multi-disciplinary design education is emerging as a consistent theme across developed markets such as the UK and the US, with the objective of developing graduates with the right combination of skills for innovation,” the report says. It adds that mulit-disciplinary courses are very few in the region, “representing a tremendous opportunity for regional educators”.
“Learning starts in schools and universities but must not end there in the drive to enable lifelong design education. An entire ecosystem of support and technologies must be available to allow the design industry to prosper freely. The region has successfully attracted many designers and firms, but in order to transform into a market that leads innovation in the field, the first steps lie in providing the right infrastructure and supporting continuous education. Students and practitioners must not only have access to equipment such as 3D printing, but also Fab Lab-type spaces that allow for both the creation

of new designs and access to new design equipment,” the report highlights.

Nez Gebreel, CEO of DDFC stated: “As demonstrated in the MENA Design Outlook study, commissioned by DDFC last year, the design industry is playing an important role and is considered a vital catalyst of innovation, economic growth and job opportunities. Investing in design education will help us to develop the design sector further, empower our breadth of local talent as well as equip designers with the knowledge and skills necessary to flourish in this dynamic industry.”


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