Money Making Machine: Design Days Dubai

Having met a few designers on our travels (namely England and France) who were disappointed by a lack of sales from showcasing their work at Design Days Dubai (and therefore not being able to mitigate the high cost of transporting valuable collectible items to and from the show), we wondered, is it a lucrative exhibition for international designers without a UAE distribution point? Or were they just not quite right for the market here?

A new report suggests it’s the latter (that, and the AED400,000+ price tags many beautiful, collectible – yet not wholly functional – pieces at the show are priced at). With Art Week’s prime events Art Dubai and Design Days Dubai 2015 bringing in over one billion dirhams in direct visitor spend in the country there’s no arguing the economic impact of the show, regardless of what actually sold on location at The Venue in March 2015.

The independent study, released by Art Dubai Fair FZ LLC (The Art Dubai Group), counts 25,000 visits made to both fairs over six days. Compare that with last year’s closing statement issued by Design Days Dubai, which stated 13,500 people visited The Venue, and well over half the visitor spend, which totaled AED1,285,602,500, could be credited to the show. That’s an unequivocal success story.

Aljoud Lootah, Emirati designer, Dubai design, Design DXB, Design Days Dubai, limited edition, origami, chair
Aljoud Lootah with her Origami chair, which she debuted at Design Days Dubai 2015

Both Aljoud Lootah and Joy Mardini of Art Factum Gallery could boast of a good experience at the 2015 edition. After the show, Emirati designer Aljoud, said: “It’s such a great platform for someone like me. It’s the first time that I have exhibited as an independent designer and I feel that I have really benefited. I’ve made contacts, sold some pieces, have met many new galleries and I’m now also looking at some possible future collaborations.”

Joy agreed: “It was an amazing fair […] We’ve had compliments left and right for our stand and it’s been a successful year – visually and in terms of sales.”

Niko Koronis, Art Factum Gallery, Design Days Dubai, Art Dubai, Art Week, DesignFix, Design Fix,
Art Factum Gallery is returning to Design Days Dubai 2016. Marble lamps, Niko Koronis

One year on and the report suggests another boom-time for the country’s economy thanks to the fifth edition of Design Days Dubai and the tenth Art Week, as it prepares to rake in 60% of a local art organisation’s annual sales revenue in just one extraordinary week for art and design enthusiasts.

The report, made by independent research body Repucom, states that last year visitors paid for a combined 27,500 hotel nights, each staying an average of 5.7 nights. Of the 25,000 visitors, Art Dubai and Design Days Dubai were the primary reason for the trip to the emirate.

“Our research shows that the Art Dubai Group sets the standard for cultural events in the region, bringing significant social and economic benefits to Dubai,” says Jon Long, managing director Middle East of Repucom. “In addition, the survey revealed a 92% approval rating from attendees and 100% consensus from participating art organisations that Art Week makes an important contribution to their own success and Dubai’s art industry in general.”

Frederic Sicre, managing director at The Abraaj Group, a principal partner of Art Dubai, says: “Abraaj has always believed that a burgeoning art market is part and parcel of a healthy economy. Through its support of Art Dubai – and The Abraaj Group Art Prize – we hope to continue playing a key role in the promotion of art in the region and empowering talented artists from the same growth markets in which we invest.”

From March 16 to 19, Art Dubai 2016 will welcome 500 artists, 100 galleries, and 40 countries as well as thousands of gallery staff, museum professionals, art curators, and aficionados. From March 14 to 18, Design Days Dubai will showcase limited edition and collectible contemporary design from 34 galleries, plus eight Special Projects, workshops and guided tours. One project includes Marcel Wanders’ Personal Editions Collection, and you can find out more on

Design Fix Editorial Team

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