Market OTB empowering grassroots talent and emerging brands during DSF 2016

Wednesday 27 January 2016

Dubai - MENA Herald: The Market Outside The Box, located at Burj Park in Downtown Dubai, is a unique shopping destination that embodies a vibrant and youthful atmosphere, and lending itself well to the fine products and innovatively designed clothes that are on display.

The outdoor venue has become a fantastic pop-up market for entrepreneurs, designers and entertainers to take their talents to a place where they can grow and showcase their exceptional work to a large audience of Dubai Shopping Festival visitors.

With many of the vendors at Market Outside The Box only selling their products via an online store, this unique lifestyle marketplace gives them the chance to experience owning an actual physical space. The amazing location of Market OTB also adds to its unique draw – positioned in Burj Park at the base of the tallest building in the world and only a 5-minute walk from one of the busiest malls in the world.

Visitors also get to touch and see the clothes before they purchase them, as well as allowing them to meet some of the vendors and making the act of shopping a more personal experience.

Emirati Creations

Mariam Al Mazrou, the Emirati designer behind local designer brand ‘Mimi Fashion Designs’ has been attracting customers steadily over the years with a range of beautifully designed clothes, that embody her quirky personality and colourfulness. Having always had an attraction to clothes design, Mariam began designing short and long skirts in 2007 for the World of Fashion event. “I participated in both the Sharjah and Dubai Wedding Shows where I presented evening gowns called kuftans, which proved to be very popular due to the distinct mix of colours.

“The idea of Market OTB and its content are beautiful. However, many people think it’s a bazaar of sorts so they are looking for discounted prices when in reality it’s a large market that displays the finest products made by innovative designers. I am very happy to take part in this year’s edition especially because the location is amazing and the entertainment is fascinating and drives a lot of families here. I’m also happy to be able to interact with my customers personally. I live in Sharjah, as do many of my clients, which makes it difficult for some of them to come see me here but this is taking place in the heart of Dubai, which makes it suitable to meet everyone and to make good business deals. Not to mention, that it is a great opportunity to meet the media and bloggers who we work with on promoting our products.”

Twisted Roots

Another Emirati designer and face behind modest day wear brand ‘Twisted Roots’, Latifa Al Kark, says her inspiration for the brand and name came from her own mixed race – her father being local and mother Danish. “I studied Electronic Engineering at AUS but I pursued fashion design because I am passionate about it. I opened a warehouse in Al Quoz where I design modest female apparel from pants and jackets to long shirts and sheilas. I launch a new line around every 6 months - summer and winter collections. There is a good demand on my products because they are of a very high quality. I tend to use Turkish, Italian and German cotton, as well as wool. My products that contain Chinese silk have proven to be very popular as well. While my products are local the standards of quality and execution are definitely international. I do tend to make my sizes for women of this region.

“Taking part in Market OTB is so amazing. It’s a great chance to be introduced to the customers at such a prime location and under the umbrella of an exceptional festival that supports young startups and entrepreneurs. To express my gratitude to Dubai Shopping Festival, I am offering a promotion on five of my new designs that range from AED 250-750”.

Traditional Meets Funky

‘Barjis by Janan B’ has a corner that displays a different set of designs that include artisan, handmade, traditional and funky abayas – which prove popular amongst those looking for traditional apparel in a modern context. Janan herself is a Lebanese designer who is currently in Dubai to take part in MOTB, saying: “I took part in Market OTB last year and it was very successful. I made a lot of connections with stores in Dubai that now promote my products which has obviously opened new gateways for me, especially as the market in Dubai is booming with customers from a wide array of nationalities.“

“I studied Psychology in Lebanon but I chose to work in fashion because I love it and to help out my mom who owns a well known fashion house back home. However, I took my own path to set myself apart from her - she specializes in hijabi fashion while I chose to focus on modern wear. I make my own designs and I follow up on every tiny detail to the extent where I promote my own designs by wearing them and putting them on display like a model. This doesn’t embarrass me; it actually makes me proud.”

“I love the idea of Market OTB. It’s a family destination with plenty of entertainment options. Sales are very high especially during weekends. I am happy to be part of it not only because it’s benefiting my business but also because it’s giving me a chance to communicate with customers and to find new ones and to promote my products on a wider range to customers who are not even necessarily Arab but who nonetheless like Arabic culture.”

Zeina Kabarah, Lebanese accessory designer living in UAE, administrative manager of Zee Atelier, an online store that sells her products as well as other designers’ and handmade jewelers’ products, said: “On display here is a collection of female and male accessories and pendants. I have personally made some of them and others are made by fellow designers. My accessories are bracelets made of precious stones and pendants made of metal, precious stones, pearls, and glass. My partners’ accessories are made of camel leather, cow leather, and other exceptional products that are popular with the market visitors.

“Overall there are ten of us who are partners in the online store - eight of us are specialized in designing and making handmade jewellery while the other two are specializing in making soaps and natural oils. We were keen on taking part in Market OTB because it is a great platform for us to put our names out there and to create trustworthy relationships with our customers as opposed to just interacting with them online.”

“The best thing about this market is that it encourages young designers and start ups to grow and succeed and it puts handmade designs in the limelight, giving them the value they deserve. This market has helped us display our products and make good sales epically since our prices cater to all segments of society where they start at 30 AED.”

Direct promotion of products

Dina Zaki, an Iraqi designer living in the UAE, displays a collection of elegant everyday wear for women under her own name, saying “Interacting directly with clients, who I usually just deal with on Snapchat and Instagram, has been great and I have loved the experience.”

“I studied Business but pursued fashion design following the paths of my mom and sister. At the beginning, I made shoes and bags and I had two stores in Sharjah. Then I left for the States and displayed my products and promoted them there. However, I preferred living in Dubai with my family so I came back but decided to make clothes this time. My collection is made of lace, chiffon, cotton, silk and polyster.”

“This market is a great chance to promote products directly to the customer because I don’t have a physical store. I deal with a lot of customers but I did not know them personally until I met them here. Others do not trust online products and worry about the quality so this market gives them a chance to see the products up close and to trust the brand.”


Sahar Wahba, an American of Arabic origin who now lives in Dubai is displaying a collection of Dolls under the name ‘Dumye’. “I make these dolls from simple materials, mainly cotton. They come with cotton material that gives their owners the chance to design one of 3 outfits as per a catalogue that has simple instructions on how to put it all together.

“We are a small homegrown brand that is not only looking to make profit, but to rather help the community. For every doll that is bought, a doll is given to an orphan. We also create opportunities for work for those who need them by having women in India work on them to better their economic status.”

“I have taken it upon myself to send a humanistic message through this project that basically brings joy to others whether they are women or orphans in the UAE, Lebanon, or Egypt. This is what I try to instill in my year old daughter.”

Market OTB is a main DSF attraction developed by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), and the organisers of DSF 2016 in association with Dubai Design and Fashion Council.

DFRE has partnered with Emaar to bring Market OTB to a central location, Burj Park, for the benefit of both residents and tourists. This year’s edition features lots of new initiatives that promote grassroots talent and home-grown businesses in the region all sponsored by GMC, Red Bull Music Academy and Rainbow.

DSF runs until 1 February under the tagline ‘Unwrap The Exceptional’ and shoppers have just five days left to make the most of the festival’s 21st edition and avail themselves of the best in shopping, winnings and entertainment.

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