Developing Digital Creativity
The UAE played host to the British Council’s first Culture Shift Lab in the Middle East in March, with the three-day program held at thejamjar art gallery in Dubai offering a group of 20 individuals a chance to work with industry experts to develop their digital ideas to benefit the culture landscape of the country and the region. Culture Shift, a global innovation program that the British Council started in 2011 and then held at several locations around the world, saw its first installment in the UAE attract a diverse array of creative talent that included everyone from designers to entrepreneurs, and then have them work together under the guidance of experts in the digital sector.
The event, which was facilitated in the UAE by U.K.-based design agency Snook, resulted in the crowning of two prototype websites, CULTURESCAPE and Creative Dubai, as the winners of the competition. While CULTURESCAPE has been conceptualized as a listings website that will help small-scale art events get a wider audience, Creative Dubai aims at becoming a platform that will use social media and digital influencers to bring more attention to grassroots artists in the UAE. “The two winning ideas have the potential to benefit the cultural sector in the UAE, and I hope this is just the start of something long-term for both teams,” said Ibrahim Elbadawi, founder of Dubai-based innovation consulting company Exantium and a judge for the event. “To keep creativity alive in the UAE, we need to be offering more opportunities like this for people to get together and discuss ideas and meet like-minded people from different perspectives.”
The Culture Shift Lab: At A Glance
Culture Shift is the British Council’s global innovation program where business ideas are generated and tested over a short period of time by designers, developers, innovators, individuals and groups from the local cultural sector. The British Council is the U.K.’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
The winners of the British Council’s Culture Shift Lab in the UAE were CULTURESCAPE (Hussam Mohsineh, software engineer and Mehrad Yaghmai, entrepreneur) and Creative Dubai (Alex Teodoresco, co-founder of Street Nights, Hetal Pawani, founder of thejamjar and Artinthecity, Wael Hattar, artist, and Mel Songoo, digital media and advertising entrepreneur).
“Dubai has a strong grassroots movement that we can give a voice to. We hope to launch our Creative Dubai brand online and through social media platforms and attract influencers and ambassadors, reach out to the art community and discover new trends in the UAE in the very near future.” - Alex Teodoresco, Creative Dubai.
“There is currently such limited exposure for smaller art events in the UAE but we’ve identified that it’s a growing industry and our website will enable all cultural events –whether small or established– to be listed for free in one place, which will benefit the artists and art enthusiasts in Dubai.” - Hussam Mohsineh, CULTURESCAPE.
Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.
Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.