A page of more or less local competitions, open calls, residencies and other opportunities open to the Gulf’s creative community

Quoz Encore


DEADLINE 7 August 2024
Apply for a performance slot at Quoz Arts Fest (25-26 Jan 2025)

  • Quoz Arts Fest (25-26 Jan 2025 @ Alserkal Avenue) offers exposure for homegrown performers (primarily musicians) via a chance to perform at an established weekend festival noted for a lively vibe and engaged audiences. Last year there were reportedly 250+ performances
  • Singers, musicians, and bands are invited to apply – perform original material or covers, no restriction on age or languages
  • Apply with a one-minute live performance video and bio via this form
  • Last year some prospective acts were invited to audition; we’re not sure if that applies this time
  • No application fee
  • None
  • Performance slot at Quoz Arts Fest

Dubai Design Week: Opportunities


DEADLINE various, from 30 August 2024
Various opportunities (workshops, talks, activations, installations, retail) at Dubai Design Week for individuals and practices, brands, and institutions

  • Dubai Design Week, the region’s largest design festival, has a number of opportunities for individuals and practices (including architects, designers, engineers and urbanists) plus design-oriented brands and cultural institutions
  • No application fee
  • EXHIBITIONS no application deadline stated
  • Flexible process for proposing a relevant exhibition
  • Curators, collectives, organisations and institutions from design-relevant fields, including architecture, materials, graphic design, experiential mediums, immersive experiences, design and development and interior design may apply
  • Queries to info@dubaidesignweek.ae
  • ACTIVATIONS no application deadline stated
  • Propose “immersive projects, cross-disciplinary collaborations, pop-ups or special presentations”
  • Should be relevant to design
  • Should offer an immersive experience or interactive participation for visitors
  • Should follow a responsible design approach in use of materials, construction, installation and operational processes
  • Should be accessible during the opening times and full duration of Dubai Design Week 2024
  • Queries to info@dubaidesignweek.ae
  • WORKSHOPS application deadline 30 August
  • Workshops programme will be hosted in a pop up ‘Maker Space’ in d3
  • Aims to “to inspire and elevate skills across all design disciplines” and cater for “professionals and aspiring creatives of all ages, interests and experience levels”
  • Design collectives, independent makers, universities, small businesses, cultural institutions can apply to share their expertise in workshops
  • Queries to info@dubaidesignweek.ae
  • TALKS application deadline 30 August
  • DDW’s talks programme aims to feature “a diverse lineup of regional and international designers, creatives and thought leaders” to share industry insights, debate and exchange ideas
  • Queries to info@dubaidesignweek.ae
  • MARKETPLACE application deadline 15 September
  • The Marketplace is an outdoor retail pop-up on 9-10 November that aims to present “quality and original products” from independents
  • DDW is looking primarily for handcrafted goods and/or those made with locally or regionally sourced materials
  • There’s a rental fee (not specified). Emirati Nationals who are selected can receive a grant from Dubai Culture to cover this
  • Queries to info@dubaidesignweek.ae
  • None stated other than relevance to design
  • As indicated

Open Call: Al Quoz Creative Entrepreneurship Competition


DEADLINE various, from 31 August 2024
Apply to pitch creative business ideas; three winners share AED 100,000 plus in-kind prizes

  • The Al Quoz Creative Entrepreneurship Forum aims to promote early-stage ideas into successful, self-sustaining projects. Last year’s Forum had 1,200+ attendees for 27 workshops, panels, keynote speeches and activations
  • The Al Quoz Creative Entrepreneurship Competition runs in tandem with the Forum. Shortlisted applicants will present at the Forum to “a distinguished panel of industry experts, investors, and forum partners”
  • Open to all early-stage UAE-based startups (must be less than two years from launch)
  • Winners get cash and in-kind prizes to invest in their ideas, develop prototypes, scale operations, and explore new market opportunities
  • Applicants must “actively” engage in activity within the cultural and creative industries. Eligible business areas include …
    – Advertising and marketing
    – Architecture, urban planning, interior design
    – Broadcasting (TV, audio, radio)
    – Handicrafts, arts, antiques
    – Design (graphic, industrial, product, fashion, digital)
    – Film, cinema, and animation
    – Music (production, publishing, performance)
    – Performing arts (theatre, dance, opera)
    – Literature, publishing, e-publishing
    – E-gaming
    – Heritage (museums, libraries, archaeology)
    – Photography, film, podcasting, and content production
    – Visual arts (painting, sculpture, installation, street art, graffiti)
    – Culinary art, gastronomy, food culture
  • Apply with …
    – Passport copy
    – Professional resumé/CV
    – Business profile (including company organisation chart, founder profiles, employee bios)
    – Pitch deck (inc business idea, value proposition, target audience, operations model, revenue model, marketing plan, how grant will be used)
  • Evaluation criteria:
    – Innovation and creativity in the project and its uniqueness and ability to compete
    – Understanding of target market’s requirements and customer needs, and potential for growth, development, and expansion
    – Project’s sustainability regarding resources, revenues, and long-term growth prospect
    – Project’s potential impact on the cultural and creative industries sector, and its contribution to promoting innovation, cultural diversity, and job creation
  • No application fee
  • Businesses must be UAE-registered
  • Businesses must be within two years of inception
  • Cash prizes:
    1st place AED 50,000
    2nd AED 30,000
    3rd AED 20,000
  • “Substantial” in-kind support packages will also be offered by Forum partners

Alserkal Arts Foundation Research Grants – 2025-2027 cycle


DEADLINE 11 September 2024
Submit proposals for project funding of $5,000 to $10,000 – three grants available

  • Alserkal Arts Foundation Research Grants support …
    – individuals or collectives
    – working in the arts, humanities and social sciences
    – who want to pursue a research project within the contexts of South Asia, West Asia and Africa
  • Applications should “demonstrate an interest in pursuing intersectional and experimental approaches to research … that strive to blur the boundaries between conventional disciplines” – applications relevant to “the violence and polarization that we are witnessing today” are particularly welcomed
  • Awardees may include multidisciplinary visual and sonic artists, architects, writers, independent publishers, documentary filmmakers, educators, geographers, historians, economists
  • Ineligible proposals:
    – Projects with a commercial interest or outcome
    – Projects for a political or religious entity or group
    – Projects for a registered charity, healthcare, or educational organisation
    – Projects that cannot be realised within 24 months
  • Applicants …
    – should demonstrate “an imaginative and evolving practice which creates space for accessible discourse and pedagogy”
    – must have at least five years’ experience in their fields
    – must be able to show how a grant would expand their expertise (selection is based on a judgement of applicants’ potential to become influential researchers, writers, practitioners, and thought-leaders in their fields)
  • Grants …
    – are up to $5,000 for individuals, up to $10,000 for duos/collectives, up to $10,000 for independent publishers
    – are awarded in phases (ie no lump sums)
    – may be used for:
    > rental of equipment for field work (eg cameras, recording equipment)
    > rental of space for video/audio recording \ transcription and translation services
    > video/sound editing services
    > website design and development
    > editorial design
    > fees for support assistants. collaborators, contributors, editors, copy editors, proofreaders
    > printing and binding of publications
    > membership of library and digital learning resources
    > acquisition of primary archival resources and out of print books or publications
    – may not be used for:
    > purchase of equipment
    > purchase of personal items, health insurance, visa fees
    > purchase of in-circulation books or monthly publication subscriptions
    > fees for personal one-on-one mentorship, professional training programmes, postgraduate education
    > costs of participating in fairs or trade markets
    > shipping fees for personal items including books
  • Apply with …
    – CV (max 3 pages)
    – Portfolio (PDF max 10 pages, 10MB)
    – Proposal summary (max 300 words)
    – Proposal detail inc schedule and budget (PDF max 10MB)
    – Two letters of recommendation
  • Queries to info@alserkalartsfoundation.ae
  • Over 21
  • Must have at least five years’ experience
  • Project grants of up to $5,000 (individuals) or $10,000 (duos/collectives, publishers)

Open Call: The Art Circle Award 2024


DEADLINE 15 September 2024
Enter a painting or mixed-media 2D work in AED 15,000 competition; shortlisted works are included in exhibition

  • Organised by UAE non-profit The Art Circle; this is the fourth edition
  • Limited to 2D work (painting and mixed-media)
  • Theme: Mappa Mundi – artists should respond to their idea of a map/maps or mapping, and “how they see the world from their perspectives”
  • Shortlisted artworks will be included in an exhibition – dates and location tbc, but 23 Oct to 3 Nov is the current proposal (the 2023 exhibition was at 421, Abu Dhabi; and 421’s director is on the 2024 jury) – with one winner announced at the exhibition’s opening
  • Submitted work …
    – should not employ digital techniques
    – should not have received an award in any other contest
    – must be min 40cm max 90 cm on each side
    – must be framed in a simple, plain, wooden, American style frame, with frame width max 3cm (and no glass or Plexiglass)
  • One work only per artist
  • Apply with …
    – UAE ID as PDF
    – Artist bio as PDF
    – one photograph of the work as high-res JPG
    – brief description of the work (max 1,200 chars)
    – actual dimensions (height x width)
    – optional PDF with past works
  • Timeline:
    – Deadline 15 Sept
    – Shortlist completed 25 Sept
    – Shortlisted artists notified 26 Sept
    – Shortlisted works to be provided by 29 Sept for physical assessment
    – Exhibition opens 23 Oct (NB might be 17 Oct, which is stated elsewhere in the docs) and shortlisted artists are required to attend
    – Exhibition runs for around two weeks
  • Submissions are reviewed by a jury including …
    Myrna Ayad, cultural strategist
  • Muna Al Gurg, businesswoman and philanthropist: vice chair at Easa Saleh Al Gurg Group
  • Faisal Al Hassan, director of 421
  • Winning artwork becomes the property of The Art Circle. Acquisition includes rights to to use the artwork for any marketing purposes and for limited edition Giclée prints. Winning artist undertakes to number and sign each copy; it will be gifted to Art Circle collaborators (inc galleries) during 2025
  • Shortlisted artists loan The Art Circle the works for two months for the purpose of exhibition, and authorise the use of artwork images free of charge over this period
  • No application fee
  • Queries to info@theartcircle.ae
  • Over 18
  • UAE Nationals or residents
  • Shortlisted artists get a certificate of participation and social media coverage
  • Shortlisted works are included in an exhibition
  • One winner gets AED 15,000
  • Winning artwork will be offered as a Giclée print to Art Circle collaborators (inc galleries) during 2025

421 Artistic Research Grant


DEADLINE 23 October 2024
Apply for a grant of up to AED 75,000 for practice-based research investigating contemporary social questions through interdisciplinary methodologies and active engagement with the community

  • Supports practice-based research investigating contemporary social questions through interdisciplinary methodologies and active engagement with the researcher’s community. Specifically not an academic grant, but “a strong interaction with the historical, geographical, and intellectual context of a grantee’s topic and medium is expected”
  • Open to local and regional early-to-mid-career creative practitioners in such disciplines as …
    – visual art and curation
    – design and technology
    – literature
    – culinary arts
    – music
    – theatre and performance
  • The grant targets topics that investigate the intersections of these disciplines with social and cultural matters such as communal and public spaces, languages and linguistics, transportation and mobility systems, urbanity and its social and cultural fabric, economics and migration, and art institutions and ecosystems. For 2025 projects that engage with questions of ecology and humans’ relationship to nature are “encouraged but not mandatory”
  • Practitioners whose research methodology is tactile and experiential, and includes material experimentation alongside community engagement, and whose outcomes extend beyond contributing to academia to include experiences, accessible content, and experiential artworks, are encouraged to apply
  • No application fee
  • None specified
  • At least two grantees (possibly more: it’s not specified) get a budget of up to AED 75,000 apiece to support their research and project