by Ayesha Shaikh
  • 3 minute read
  • July 28, 2019
Meet The Impressive Director Of Dubai Design District: Khadija Al Bastaki

Meet Khadija Al Bastaki and you will be immediately drawn to her riveting charm.

Dressed in a free-flowing abaya, the clack of her Manolos echoes how she has made great strides. She is the grande dame of Dubai Design District (d3), appointed as the Executive Director of the city’s most remarkable cultural destination in January this year, and taking the reins from former CEO Mohammad Saeed Al-Shehhi. “I am very proud and excited to take on this role at d3 both as a woman and a professional,” she says. “I take this new role as a responsibility to boost the growth of d3 and the UAE design community.”

Al Bastaki pursued an MBA in Strategic Management from Abu Dhabi’s Higher Colleges of Technology and a Bachelor’s degree in Software Engineering Technology from the same institute in Dubai. She has an impressive professional roster with more than 14 years of experience in business development, portfolio management and international relations with a focus on building strategic partnerships. She last served as Director of Business Development at Dubai Media City, Dubai Studio City and Dubai Production City, a part of the TECOM Group portfolio that also includes d3. “TECOM Group has continuously proven its unwavering belief in gender equality and women’s ability by appointing them in progressive leadership posts across its businesses,” she lauds the company.

Hailing from a business background, Al Bastaki is breaking new ground in the creative industry with an unflappable work ethic and vision to bolster the role of d3 as a regional and global design hub.

For her, it is a priority to sustain d3’s current community and bridge the gap between design and culture, extending support to business partners and retailers, nurturing students and young entrepreneurs.

“We are keen to work more closely with government entities that operate in design, arts and culture to open new opportunities and establish wider platforms for the creative community,” she explains.

Another area of focus will be to enhance d3’s design and cultural programming, with 2019 events including the ING Creatives Festival, the d3 Art Market, a series of exhibitions in the Design Quarter, and art workshops.

“We also plan on growing our CSR initiative ‘Design for Good’, which aims at uniting the design community by encouraging creative collaborations that promote social change in the UAE. Its three key pillars are Design for Placemaking, Design for Sustainability, and Design for Empowerment,” Al Bastaki explains. Among d3’s upcoming efforts is a collaboration with L’Ecole Van Cleef & Arpels, a special three-week program that returns for its second iteration to d3 with a series of courses, cinema sessions and exhibitions, running from 28 March till 13 April.

“Van Cleef & Arpels aligns with our vision of creating an artistic and educational hub that allows partners to network, engage, and truly immerse themselves in design,” shares Al Bastaki. “We first collaborated with the School of Jewelry Arts two years ago for courses on the history and culture of fine jewelry and watchmaking, and in March, designers will experience these courses once again at Hai d3.”

Khadija Al Bastaki at Home Bakery in d3

“Never give up on your dream”

As Dubai becomes a prime mover in the international creative circuit, having been named the first city in the Middle East among UNESCO’s list of 24 creative cities of design last year, Al Bastaki hopes that d3 continues to aid this growth. “d3 is currently home to over 500 business partners – from emerging designers to international brands. In 2018, it hosted over 300 events and workshops for the design community and promoted the works of over 50 homegrown designers,” she shares. “We exhibited the works of 12 Emirati artists taking inspiration from local culture. Titled UAE Design Stories, the exhibition travelled through the design capitals of the world, including Milan, Paris and London, returning to the UAE for Dubai Design Week [last year].”

Al Bastaki’s appointment reflects on the UAE’s commitment to women assuming senior leadership roles and playing a potent role in marking the country’s success. “Here at d3, we currently have 75 Emirati women who are either CEOs or company owners, and I only see this figure increasing in the years to come. I hope that women can get inspired and know they can reach any position they aspire to get as long as they have the drive and passion to work for it,” she shares. So, you are sure to leave Al Bastaki feeling more empowered and moved by words that she is remarkably exemplary of herself: “Follow your passion, work hard, use the tools and platforms we are lucky to have here in the UAE, be confident and never give up on your dream.”

Photography by Aasiya jagadeesh

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