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R&D in the Gulf
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R&D in the Gulf

In the Gulf, a resurgence is taking place within the creative industries, with big ambitions to create a sector that drives both social and economic change. Co-founder Paul Owens discussed with key leaders how some of these large-scale initiatives are taking shape and explored the role of R&D within this rapidly changing landscape.


Speaking with panellists Hala Al Khalifa, Chief Executive Officer of the Nuwah Foundation (Bahrain), Miguel Blanco-Carrasco, Advisor to the Royal Commission for Riyadh City (KSA), and Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director of Alserkal Initiatives (Dubai), the discussion enabled a UK audience to gain insights into different countries in the Gulf and their ambitious visions for growth and collaboration.


Sharing the growing support, policies, and practices that are contributing to their respective regions’ economic and cultural transformation, the discussion revolved around new technologies, cultural identity, and the responsibility of building a cultural sector.


Touching on the incredible young population in KSA that is looking to embrace new technologies and media, Miguel Blanco-Carrasco discussed how Riyadh is striving to create experiences relevant to communities while attracting international talent. Similarly, Vilma Jurkute spoke of an appetite for creativity and the creative industries - but one that as a leader comes with a large responsibility. To grow a cultural district from scratch means challenging traditional definitions of R&D as a product-based process. Instead, she argued R&D is an embedded concept, constantly evolving within its context. 'We have a great responsibility; when you are making history, R&D should be part of daily life.’


Hala Al Khalifa also emphasised the responsibility of building a sector which is opening itself up to international cultural imports. Sharing how Bahrain is growing generational talents and creating place-based experiences, she explored how holding onto identity and sharing it with the world is just as important as bringing in new experiences and collaborators.


Rounding out the discussion with opportunities for international collaboration and exchange, it was encouraging to moderate this engaging discussion amongst local leaders for a UK audience. Thank you to the organisers at the BEYOND for asking us to moderate this important and timely discussion.


Full panel discussion available to watch here.


About Beyond Conference

BEYOND is an annual conference for thinkers, makers, investors, and researchers across the creative industries, exploring the relationship between creative research and business innovation. This year’s conference shone a spotlight on the huge role UK creatives are playing in building extraordinary, ground-breaking projects as part of international teams. Showcasing this work, BEYOND 2023 explored the potential of building new global partnerships for the creative industries.


Learn more about BEYOND here.

Learn more about our work in the Gulf region by getting in touch below.


BEYOND Conference, Ambition and Transformation: Emerging Creative R&D Practice in the Gulf

Co-founder Paul Owens joined by regional panel to discuss the Gulf’s rapidly growing sector and exciting possibilities for international collaboration.

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By BOP Consulting

Callum Lee

Managing Director

Callum leads the BOP team, its portfolio and strategic partnerships. His cultural and creative industries expertise is grounded in his work for major clients in the UK, Europe and Middle East.

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Callum Lee

Callum Lee

Managing Director

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