SHARJAH – Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) and Arada have announced a joint initiative to identify and empower the UAE's next fashion prodigy.

The competition is open to local and locally based designers who need mentoring and support to bring their fashion concepts to market.

The competition will start with a contest, where interested applicants can submit their entries to Sheraa's social media platforms before September 21. The winner will receive a three-month rent-free retail space at Artal, Arada's first beautifully designed boutique on East Boulevard in Aljada, Sharjah. They will also have the opportunity to showcase their work at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) 2023.

Their impact investment initiative is designed to harness the full business potential of local and locally based designers who need mentoring and support to bring their fashion concepts to their target audiences across the nation.

Alongside providing the free retail space to the winner at Artal, Arada will also review the winner’s proposal and offer advisory support on branding including design, signage and marketing strategy. Arada’s commercial experts will provide a detailed finance and business model review to the winning concept.

The impact investment initiative has been designed to scout the next generation of modest wear and home-based brands based in Sharjah or looking to expand in the emirate. The contest targets local and resident designers and university students who have been operating online through their personal social networks and need more traction, or those who have the talent and the concept, but require expert guidance, business mentoring and the right platforms to connect with their target audience.

Iman Ben Chaibah, Head of Community Engagement at Sheraa, noted, “The fashion industry in the UAE is as vibrant as it is competitive, and sometimes the right mentoring and showcasing opportunities become the difference between failure and success, particularly for individual designers who are up against giant global brands. This impact investment initiative has been designed by Sheraa and supported by Arada to ensure that the exceptional talents in the field of fashion design in Sharjah and the UAE receive world-class mentoring and support to bring their dreams to fruition. As a nation, we admire and respect ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit, and therefore design initiatives that ensure that art and creativity continue to thrive.”

Zainab Salem, Founding Manager, Artal, said, “We are honoured at Artal to be part of this initiative, which falls in line with our strategy that aims to support the community through empowering talented fashion designers and giving them the opportunity to achieve their dreams. Through this initiative, we are reinforcing the importance of the fashion industry in the United Arab Emirates, which is fast becoming a global hub for the sector. Artal will be offering the winner of this competition not just retail space at its Aljada store but also the benefit of a full advisory scheme in conjunction with Arada’s commercial experts to continue its successful journey and achieve excellence”.

Artal is a venture by Arada, the innovative master developer behind Aljada.

The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF) is one of the biggest ecosystem events in the region, which has hosted 18,500+ attendees and 465+ local and international speakers in five years. The 2022 edition of SEF was its largest yet.

The two-day festival welcomed over 5,900 founders, students and thought leaders who presented path breaking and socially conscious ideas that will shape a better future for humans as well as our planet.