United Arab Emirates: Dubai Creative Clusters Takes Off

Last Updated: 22 June 2015
Article by Philip O' Riordan and Benjamin Smith

The Dubai Technology & Media Free Zone (the DTMFZ) is a Free Zone in Dubai comprised of a number of well-known business parks including Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Dubai Design District, Knowledge Village and various others. The DTMFZ has been re-launched under the new name Dubai Creative Clusters (the DCC). At the same time, the Dubai Technology & Media Free Zone Authority (the DTMFZ Authority), which was responsible for administering and regulating the DTMFZ, has been renamed Dubai Creative Clusters Authority (the Authority).

The above changes were brought into effect pursuant to Dubai Law No. 15 of 2014 concerning the Creative Clusters in the Emirate of Dubai (the DCC Law).

The Authority's objectives are different in scope to those of the DTMFZ Authority, and now include:

  • the promotion of Dubai as a regional and international destination for creative production;
  • the creation of a business environment for creativity and innovation; and
  • the enhancement of Dubai's competitiveness for companies working within creative industries.

Resolutions issued by the DTMFZ Authority will continue to remain in force until such time as they are replaced by the Authority with new regulations. The implementation of the DCC Law should not, therefore, have an immediate impact on businesses that were licensed by the DTMFZ Authority and are currently operating in the DCC.

We anticipate that new regulations may be issued by the Authority in the future, and those could impact the regulatory framework in the DCC. In due course, the operating policies and practices of the Authority may also change from those of the DTMFZ Authority.

The DCC Law contains some important provisions that introduce new concepts to the DCC and amend the roles and powers of the Authority from those contained in previous legislation that created the DTMFZ Authority. We have set out details of some of those provisions below:

  • The activities that may, in principle, be carried out in the DCC have been described differently under the DCC Law to the position under the previous legislation. Activities in connection with the design, manufacture, development and use of creative and innovative products, activities which create infrastructure for creative and innovative products, and research that contributes to the development of creative and innovative products, may all be carried out in the DCC. These activities are broader than those contained in the previous legislation, which were limited to a more discrete list of business activities, such as electronic commerce, telecommunication, education services, tourism services and biotechnology.
  • The Authority has the power to establish rules regulating the conduct of businesses established in the DCC, and to appoint bodies to resolve issues in respect of the application of those rules.
  • The powers granted to the Authority, its Chairman and its Director General have, broadly, been increased.
  • The Authority has a restructured senior management structure, and there is no limit of the term of appointment of the Chairman of the Authority (as there was with the term of appointment of the Chairman of the DTMFZ Authority).
  • The DCC Law authorises the Authority to delegate its powers to a third party, something that the DTMFZ Authority was not explicitly permitted to do.
  • The DCC Law imposes accounting obligations on the Authority; the DTMFZ Authority was not subject to the same requirements.

While the DCC Law paves the way for future development and change within the DCC, its implementation should not have an immediate impact, from a licensing and regulatory perspective, on the businesses that were authorised by the DTMFZ Authority (now the Authority) to carry on business in the DCC.

Author's Note: Although the DTMFZ Authority has on occasion been colloquially referred to as the 'TECOM Authority', it is entirely separate from TECOM Investments, the well-known real estate master developer and operator of business parks both within and outside the DTMFZ. TECOM Investments is unaffected by the changes being introduced under the DCC Law, and it will continue with the same name and operational remit.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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