British Council Creative Economy

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4 April 2018

Vibrant approaches, new perspectives in UAE

Catherine Abbott, British Council Arts Manager for the UAE reflects on recent enterprise training held for Young Creative Emirati Entrepreneurs.

We arrived in the magnificent Manarat Al Saadiyat, the main cultural hub in Abu Dhabi for the monthly Saturday session with young creative Emirati entrepreneurs. They were participating in a programme called the Cultural Excellence Fellowship, run by the founder and CEO of UK company Protein; Will Rowe, who flew in from London to deliver the programme. 

“This is a new concept in the UAE, as an artist sometimes you can get stuck but to have Protein show us how to move forward and what you can do with everything all that learned is invaluable.” Sanaa Amro, Student Life Specialist

This session formed part of the Cultural Excellence Fellowship; a programme in partnership with Abu Dhabi Music, Arts Foundation and the British Council which aims to bring together the best of the emerging talent of the Emirati cultural and creative industries, with established cultural leaders from the UK, the UAE and beyond to make a contribution to the fast evolving UAE cultural sector.

The training is designed to equip UAE nationals with a range of skills specific to the creative and cultural sector, including programming, business development, planning, marketing and fundraising.

“As new start-ups and new entrepreneurs it gave us great direction for how to structure our plan to be more successful.” Hajer Al Mahdi, NYUAD, Community Learning Specialist

Will began to introduce the concept of his company which ultimately aims to assist brands operating in any sphere, at any level, the opportunity to grow and develop their business potential which is essential for these young emerging creatives, working in the cultural sector in the UAE. The focus of the session was “the seven rules of growth” a simple set of rules delivered as an informal three part workshop:

  • Reason - the driving force behind a brand and “what is the purpose of what you are doing” as a start-up brand

  • Research - who is your customer? Who is your competitor? What is your market?

  • Relevance - how you can be relevant and remain relevant.

  • Revenue - focusing on sustainability

  • Risks - AKA the reality check phase

  • Results - the “boring” but essential measurement stuff; hard versus soft metrics

  • Repeating - all of these steps to achieve growth

The Cultural Excellence fellows were individually challenged to look at these seven areas from their own business planning perspective followed by quick pitches to the group and expert feedback from Will, which revolved around refinement and further development of the concepts.

“Protein is very vibrant in its approach and it really stressed the idea of "relevance" and looked at tangible ways of doing this.” Amna Saif, Marketing and PR,  Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority

This jam packed day gave the fellows the extra tools they needed to start preparing and presenting their business plans which they will have to deliver in May. The group who are now working towards their final graduation in June.