The Largest-Ever Dubai Design Week Festival Opens In D3

Emma Hodgson   |   08-11-2023

The region’s largest design festival opened this week in Dubai Design District. 

Running until 12th November the festival will see more than 500 participants take part from over 40 countries.

Alongside the festival, Downtown Design – the Middle East’s leading design fair and Dubai Design Week’s anchor event – will celebrate its 10th anniversary this November. 

The free-to-attend event will host its most diverse programme of events and activities, including exhibitions, new commissions, pop-ups, talks, workshops, as well as other innovative design projects and experiences.

Khadija Al Bastaki, Senior Vice President of d3, part of TECOM Group, said: “Creative industries are not solely engines of economic growth – they shape societies and identities. By focusing on this intersection, Dubai has forged a formidable platform fueling creative innovation, collaboration and opportunities. Through Dubai Design Week, we look forward to providing a platform for extraordinary talent from d3 and the UAE, the broader region, and beyond, to exhibit their work and influences globally. This year, as always, talent will embrace our call to Rethink the Regular and springboard brilliant ideas, creations and perspectives that show us where the creative compass points. Dubai Design Week is an integral part of d3’s lively autumn calendar which reflects our vision to secure a sustainable, resilient creative economy.” 

Some of the highlights from the 2023 programme include: 

Downtown Design

The highlight event of Dubai Design Week, Downtown Design, is gearing up for a memorable tenth edition at d3 Waterfront Terrace (8-11 November 2023). Acclaimed as the Middle East’s leading fair for contemporary and high-quality design, Downtown Design showcases the latest collections, innovative products, and design solutions, complemented by a line-up of creative concepts and installations, experiences, and industry events. It’s the ultimate destination for those seeking the latest trends in interior design, furniture, lighting and home accessories.


Returning to this year’s programme, Abwab is an annually remodelled feature acting as a platform for regional design talent from across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. The festival’s 2023 headline commission has been awarded to Emirati architect and founder of MULA design studio, Abdalla Almulla. Almulla will create an architectural pavilion centred around sustainability and materiality, including a roster of interventions and performances. 

Urban Commissions

Dubai Design Week’s design competition, Urban Commissions, also returns this year inviting designers and architects to propose innovative outdoor furniture in the public domain, adhering to a responsible design approach. The winning design, which will be unveiled at the festival in d3, has been selected by a jury panel consisting of experts in the design field: Ahmad Bukhash, Robert Shakespeare and Cyril Zammit.


Staged throughout d3, a destination enabling the global creative community, Dubai Design Week will feature over 20 outdoor installations and projects, with a focus on how design, science and technology can converge to reclaim traditional materials, as well as reimagine new forms that foster sustainable practices. FabPub, a joint venture between Mamou-Mani Architects and Therme Group will showcase The Altostrata, a 3-D-printed architectural pavilion made from biodegradable sugar-based PLA; and eco-cooling walls made entirely from loofah and a paper pulp modular system, as well as other interactive interventions. Architects Wael Al Awar and Kazuma Yamao, of waiwai, will present Urban Hadeera, a prototype of a traditional structural shelter, using sustainable cement alternatives developed through their award-winning research project Wetland Lab.  

Exhibitions & Pop Ups

Throughout the week, a series of exhibitions will showcase the latest in design from the region and beyond, including the annual UAE Designer Exhibition, curated by Fatma Al Mahmoud and supported by Dubai Culture, which will once again highlight work from new and emerging UAE-based designers; 100/100 Best Arabic Poster, supported by 421, will present posters from the region that aim to document the Arab world’s visual culture; The Royal College of Art from London, will feature projects that explore sustainability, design and emerging technologies linked to themes including textiles, healthcare, infrastructure and the rehabilitation of environments; as well as other presentations that showcase innovative student projects, a materials library and works by emerging and established architectural firms.

Talks, Workshops and Masterclasses

A line-up of talks, workshops and masterclasses throughout the week will provide visitors of all ages a level of design know-how with a series of hands-on activities. This will be an opportunity to experience and learn from a range of practitioners – from professors of world-renowned institutions to expert facilitators and craftsmen. There will be a stellar roster of guests and speakers, including the opening keynote this year by Lidewijk Edelkoort at The Forum in Downtown Design.


For those looking to take a piece of Dubai Design Week home, The Marketplace (11-12 November), is a consciously curated outdoor shopping experience enabling visitors to discover the very best of the city’s creatives, artisans and small businesses, from handcrafted unique goods and sustainably sourced products to a wide range of delicious food and children’s activities. Located in the heart of Dubai Design District (d3), The Marketplace is a must-visit destination for all the family.