MENASA Emirati Design Platform celebrates UAE design and global collaboration

Promotion: over 40 international designers showcased their work at Expo 2020 Dubai through MENASA, Emirati Design Platform, which explored collaborative contemporary design and craft projects in the United Arab Emirates.

MENASA took place as part of the World Expo in Dubai from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. The platform aimed to spark interest and opportunities in new markets and showcased the works of international designers through themed collaborations.

With a focus on local talent and UAE design, MENASA enabled a wide-ranging audience to see UAE traditions, narratives, crafts, and practices through a design lens.

The platform welcomed diverse communities and presented high-end design in addition to products of various price points to ensure the event was accessible to all.

A photograph of the menasa exhibition space
40 designers showcased their work at Expo 2020 Dubai through MENASA, Emirati Design Platform. Image above: Wild Flora of the UAE by Alia Bin Omair

One such collaboration was Craft Stories, which presented collections from the Emirati craft scene, focusing on innovations in material use and contemporary design while communicating new design narratives emerging from the UAE.

Another collaboration included Designer of the Week, where designers were offered an opportunity to showcase their work to the millions of visitors at the expo.

A photograph of white coffee cups by design studio TINKAH
Among the projects on show were RAML CSN Coffee Cups by design studio TINKAH

According to its organisers, the design platform helped to lift people's spirits during a difficult period.

"No doubt, the energy in the UAE is different; its freshness and vitality present a dynamic and attractive playground for creatives within and from around the globe, presenting unique opportunities for collaboration and reinvention," said senior vice president, arts and culture at Expo 2020 Dubai, Dr Hayat Shamsuddin.

In addition to the collections, MENASA also launched a programme of panel live-streamed discussions, which addressed topics such as The Power of Storytelling in Design and Interpretation of Crafts through Technology.

A photograph of a panel discussion
The Interpretation of Crafts through Technology discussion panellists included Dr Hayat Shamsuddin, Mohamed Maktabi, Salama Al Shamsi, Carmelo Zappulla and Edouard Cabay

"It was imperative for the programme to not only demonstrate the regional design potential on the ground through its design collections, but also share its core messaging regarding the importance of creating advocates for conscious design and continued global collaboration with industry and institutes," said senior manager, MENASA Emirati Design Platform at Expo 2020 Dubai, Zeina Barto.

"There is a clear rerouting to the way designers are presenting themselves and their work, and ultimately, this is changing the perception of the creative industry and its bountiful contribution to the world," Barto continued.

Many craft projects including "Pixels" Blanket by artist Faissal El Malak were included

The MENASA Publication, by Actar Publishing House, was launched during the expo, featuring the collection's striking visuals and recalling the stories and processes of the designers and makers.

It also includes essays that address topics such as the future of design and aims to capture the region's emerging design voice.

MENASA also published the MENASA Emirati Design Platform Publication for Expo2020

Expo 2020 Dubai and MENASA finished on 31 March 2022. It can still be visited virtually and viewers can also join a virtual tour.

To view more about MENASA visit its website.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for MENASA as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.