design competition

In celebration of the UAE’s cultural heritage, where tradition meets innovation, Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown has partnered with The Zay Initiative, a non-profit organization that celebrates the preservation of Arab heritage, to launch an international design competition, ‘ZAY – THE ART OF UAE DRESS’. The global competition will give aspiring up and coming designers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to design a traditional Emirati dress with a modern twist and have their winning designs be part of The Zay Initiative’s stunning permanent collection of Arab historical attire.
As the UAE celebrates its Golden Jubilee this year, Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown and The Zay Initiative invite designers from across the world to draw on three iconic UAE traditional outfits, inspired by Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown’s art and interior design and The ‘Sofa Series’ – a limited edition art prints time capsule, created in 2019. The Sofa Series capsule showcases the UAE’s cultural heritage through its dress-prints, to create their individual interpretation of the traditional Emirati dress – ‘Thawb’, with a modern touch.
To enter the competition, all participants must submit the sketches of their designed Thawb along with a written concept note or a video clip that explains their creative thought process behind the design by 28th September 2021. All designs will be reviewed by notable jury including Feryal Al Bastaki, Founder and Designer of Feryal Al Bastaki Fashion, Dr Reem Tariq El Mutwalli, Founder (CEO) of the The Zay Initiative, Patricia Millns, Fellow of Royal Society of Arts (FRSA) and Creative Advisor at The Zay Initiative and Astrid Lesuisse, Art Manager at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown, among others.
The jury will then shortlist five finalists who will have the incredible opportunity to bring their winning designs to life and display their works at an exclusive fashion exhibition at Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown from 2nd November until 31st December 2021. Each winning design will then be part of The Zay Initiative’s permanent collection online, where they collect, document, conserve and exhibit traditional Emirati attire and their stories for global viewing.
Talking about this unique initiative, Laura Eggleton, General Manager of Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown said, “We believe that it is essential to preserve and accurately portray the intangible cultural heritage of the UAE and as such, we are elated to partner with The Zay Initiative who aim to empower and sustain global cross-cultural dialogue to inspire creative minds.

design competition
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. 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.”


  • August 28, 2021: Submissions Open
  • September 28, 2021: Deadline to submit the sketch and concept note
  • October 12, 2021: Applicants to be notified about their result by this date latest
  • Contact the hotel if you do not receive notice by this date at [email protected]
  • November 1, 2021: Qualified participants to submit their final wearable dress to the below mentioned address: Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown, Marasi Drive, Dubai, UAE.
  • November 2, 2021: Exclusive exhibition showcasing the finalists’ dresses
  • November 28, 2021: Press-covered ceremony and awards jury
  • December 31, 2021: Last day of exhibition.

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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