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Tradition Meets Innovation In This Global Design Competition

Sketch and concept note submissions should be in by September 28!

If you’re an aspiring fashion designer, participating in the “Zay – The Art of UAE Dress” competition may be just what you need to get your name out there. The international design competition, a meaningful partnership between Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown and The Zay Initiative, is giving up and coming designers a unique opportunity to design a traditional Emirati dress, the thawb, with a modern twist. The five winning creations will then be exhibited at the hotel before landing on The Zay Initiative’s stunning permanent online collection of Arab historical attire. The competition is also a great way to fly the UAE flag as the nation marks its Golden Jubilee this year.

In celebration of the UAE’s cultural heritage, the vibrant lifestyle hotel and the non-profit organisation that celebrates the preservation of Arab heritage are calling on designers from all over the world to draw on three iconic UAE traditional outfits, inspired by the hotel’s art and interior design and the ‘Sofa Series.’ A limited-edition art prints time capsule, the series was created in 2019 and displays the UAE’s cultural heritage through its dress-prints.

“Through this competition, we at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown, along with The Zay Initiative, aim to shed light on the traditional clothing of the Emirati woman, whilst giving a platform for emerging designers to showcase their creative flair,” Laura Eggleton, General Manager of the hotel, said. “This exciting competition aims to reach audiences across the globe, allowing people to explore and discover the allure of UAE culture and give participants an opportunity to be a part of the historical journey as the UAE celebrates its 50th anniversary.”

To enter the competition, all contestants must submit a sketch of their individual interpretation of a wearable thawb design with a contemporary touch along with a written concept note or a video clip. The notes or video clips must explain the participants’ creative thought process behind the design. All designs will be reviewed by notable jury members, including Feryal Al Bastaki, Founder and Designer of Feryal Al Bastaki Fashion and Dr Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, Founder and CEO of the The Zay Initiative. Patricia Millns, Fellow of Royal Society of Arts and Creative Advisor at The Zay Initiative, and Astrid Lesuisse, Art Manager at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown, are also on the panel.

After being shortlisted, the five finalists will have the amazing chance to bring their successful designs to life and display their works at a fashion exhibition at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown from November 2 until December 31. Each winning design will then be part of The Zay Initiative’s permanent online collection. (This is where the association collects, documents, conserves and exhibits traditional Emirati attire and their stories for global viewing.)

For further information and details to be a part of “Zay – The Art of UAE Dress,” please visit or call +971 (0)54 793 5155

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