The Dubai IDEATHON initiative was established in response to the immediate challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the cultural sector. This is a collective call to action to ideate possible solutions that can be put into practice to support the local cultural industries.


Across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a crisis in the cultural sector that is largely made up of SMEs and the self-employed. We are inviting everyone to work collectively to find solutions aimed at supporting the most vulnerable stakeholders.


Everyone is invited to submit ideas to address challenges, propose solutions to reframe the narrative around this crisis and explore new possibilities.


Read the open call, fill in the application form to submit your idea. We will contact you with next steps.


Dubai IDEATHON is a three-phased project:

PHASE 1: Open Call

Open call to receive proposals that respond to one (or many) of the listed challenges.


Six ideation sessions with the participants of the open call will be organised based on the common challenges, and facilitated by specialised design-thinking experts, concluding in well-defined proposals.


Proposed solutions will be put to industry experts to help devise implementation strategies.



8am: Dubai IDEATHON submissions open for receiving ideas

Saturday April 4

12am: Submissions close at midnight

Monday April 6

10am - 2pm: Groups are assigned and participants are sent workshop links

Tuesday April 7

10am - 4pm: First set of ideation sessions

Wednesday April 8

10am - 4pm: Second set of ideation sessions

Thursday April 9

Collating ideas and proposals into a final list


The identified challenges address issues relating to human capital, financial stability, business partnerships, business continuity, cultural value chain and sustained creative production.

1 What solutions could be created to protect jobs and employees during crisis?

Including permanent and temporary staff as well as freelance contractors. Protection can refer to either financial, physical or mental wellbeing.

2 How can the creative community self-organise? And what kind of public-private collaborations can we explore to help support the cultural industries?

From the creation of talent pools, expertise directories and databases to skill-based collectives and collaborative businesses.

3 How can companies start reducing their fixed costs?

While considering more sustainable and responsible business operation models.

4 How to improve company / client relationships and collaborations?

Optimising business relationships and workflows could have a major impact on improving business outcomes.

5 How to maintain the flow of supply chains?

Securing the constant business activity of the different stakeholders will guarantee the health of the whole chain.

6 Are businesses able to generate revenue from digital shifts? And how?

Many businesses are shifting to digital, but what if the products are not sellable online? Can digital tools still support revenue generation?



Onat is a Learning and Organization Designer at ATÖLYE, with a graduate degree in Strategic Design and Management from The New School’s Parsons School of Design in New York. He has a background in service, user experience and interaction design and has been a volunteer organizer for the New York edition of Global Service Jam and the Istanbul edition of Global Service Jam, as well as OpenIDEO’s Istanbul-based events.


Leen is a senior lead at ATÖLYE, leading the launch of the Creative Hub in Dubai. With a bachelor’s degree in Communication Design and a masters in Design Entrepreneurship, Leen has over 10 years of experience in branding, strategy, user experience and product design. She has been involved in the entrepreneurship scene for over five years through her own startup and as a mentor for Techstars and Flat6labs.

Key Partners


On 8th March 2008, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, launched Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture). The mandate of the Authority is to serve as a dedicated entity for culture, arts, heritage, and literature in the Emirate of Dubai, and to drive the growth of the city’s artistic and cultural landscape.

Dubai Culture focuses on establishing Dubai as a regional and global centre for creativity, and also seeks to enhance the city's cultural identity in order to drive the creative economy. The Authority strives to enhance the quality of life for Dubai residents to help achieve a key pillar of the Dubai Plan 2021 objectives, which is to create a city of happy, creative, and empowered people.

Under the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture, the Authority has played an integral role in reinforcing Dubai’s position as a vibrant global centre for creativity, and in enhancing the city's cultural identity.


The Art Dubai Group is a commercial public/private partnership that for 14 years has launched some of the region’s most successful cultural events and programmes including Art Dubai, Dubai Design Week and the Global Grad Show. The company’s mission is to develop sustainable ecosystems that support the development of vibrant creative scenes.


A.R.M. Holding is a dynamic economic holding company that generates opportunities through local, regional and global investments. Social responsibility and sustainability are integral parts of A.R.M. Holding’s approach to investment, and through responsible decision making they aim to develop opportunities that bolster local ecosystems.


ATÖLYE is a community-powered organization that combines a strategic design studio, creative hub and learning academy under one roof. As a recent addition to the kyu collective, ATÖLYE connects and engages the local creative community through impactful events and purpose-driven work.