Creativity behind events – by Be Experiential’s Thembi Hlekane

The creative industry in Dubai is going from strength to strength and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down, says Thembi Hlekane, head of creative at BE Experiential

Thembi Hlekane – Head of Creative at BE Experiential.

The creative industry in Dubai is truly up and coming, and it is slowly becoming an integral part of the economy. Many creative individuals are recognising the merits of setting up shop in Dubai because it is a springboard for success. The Dubai government has also seen the benefit of attracting these people to Dubai by setting up the 10-year National Strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries, which is chaired by H.E. Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth in UAE.

This 10-year plan intends to expand the size and capabilities of the two sectors, cultural and creativity and rank them among the top 10 most important economic industries in the Emirates. The strategy also aims to increase the contribution of these two industries to the country’s gross domestic product to 5 per cent over the next decade. With such forward-thinking leadership, an abundance of youth talent, and some of the biggest dreamers on the planet in residence, Dubai is at the global forefront of the creative industry and will be for a long time to come. In 2020, the number of creative enterprises in Dubai reached 14,771. This marks a growth of 12 per cent from 2019. These creative enterprises in turn generated exceptional job opportunities. The total workforce within the sector reached 100,486 in 2018, which increased by 7.5 per cent in 2019 to reach 108,019. It has continued to grow ever since despite the impact of the pandemic.

Behind The Scenes

Events are a journey; from their inception to the final finished product, they are a meticulous process. A lot more goes into planning an event than most people understand. How much work goes into remodelling a house? The ideas, the equipment, the sourcing, the people, scheduling – now imagine doing that in a week. And you must design the actual house, build it and decorate it, oh and did we mention the house is 10 stories high? Not that simple, is it?

Running an event is like building a fully functional space from a patch of sand in no time, then operating it while thousands of people trample over it. It always begins with a simple idea. These ideas must then be developed into a fully functioning project. All creatives are constantly trying to tell their story, be it through a picture, a sentence, or a pallet. It is a continuous story of one’s identity and their view on a topic, one that they hope is shared or understood by others.

This story can start simple, but with creativity and imagination, it grows and develops into something much more impressive. During an event planning meeting, the brief will speak to something you have seen or experienced. The process is like a canvas for the creative mind’s dreams, history, and perspectives. They try to shape narratives based on this continuous storyline. The team will ask themselves two simple questions: What is the story we want to tell? And how do we most effectively tell this story? 

The creative environment develops mostly through curiosity, supported by an environment that fosters and allows for imaginations to run wild. The creative mind questions everything. An inquisitive environment feeds the creative process. The environment dictates what you feed your curiosity, be it the need to break the rules or how the mind can wander and thrive. That curiosity and the environment crafts perspectives as people always want to shape the world or their event how they see it in their own minds. 

Events are dreams that have been brought to life. They are the vision of a creative individual or team put on display for the world to enjoy. The ideas behind these displays are based on how the organiser looks at the world, and more importantly, how they want others to perceive it. Our team is fortunate to have worked in diverse events that require a high level of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. We have conceptualised and executed over 35 events from big to medium scale with a total attendance of 530,472 guests and around 1.6 virtual viewers from around the world. 

There is a constant battle when each event space is being created. The need for ingenuity and fresh ideas is paramount. Creating a recognisable and memorable event takes new, bold ideas as no one wants to do the same thing twice. Essentially, each event is a new piece of the world as temporary as it may be. 

The most memorable event starts with a simple idea. An idea that was built up and transformed into a masterpiece that we might all know and remember. What might seem like such a smooth operation, usually takes months of hard work to create the perfect finished product we eventually engage with. Everything from shapes and spaces to colour and messaging starts from nothing to become a fully immersive experience for everyone to enjoy.