DUBAI, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) -- The United Arab Emirates (UAE)'s Dubai Design District (D3) on Tuesday launched the Empowerment Program through Industry Collaboration (EPIC) to develop the fashion industry throughout the Middle East.
Speaking to Xinhua at the launch, Maitha Al-Suwaidi, director and head of relations management at D3, said that 80 percent of the fashion sold in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is imported from other parts of the world.
Founded in 2013 by Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, D3 became a home for hundreds of designers from around the world.
"With the launch of EPIC, we aim to support young talented fashion designers from the Arab world through scholarships, networking events, free training sessions, free showroom spaces provided by established Arab fashion designers and by opening doors to retail channels in the MENA region," said Al-Suwaidi.
Lebanese fashion designer, co-founder and COO of EPIC, Ramzi Nakad, said "the Arab world from Morocco to Iraq is a community of 370 million people, and together this is a bigger market than the United States, hence there is a potential for expanding a home-production of dresses, shoes and accessories for men and women alike."
Asked how EPIC can allay financial problems faced by several young entrepreneurs, Nakad said that EPIC is currently talking to capital generators, such as private equity firms, banks and businesses, in order to organize sessions later this year through which designers can present their business plans in order to receive funding.
One of the designers Alia Tair from Kazakhstan said "D3 is a very good platform for developing the fashion industry. Soon I will launch my own brand and I hope EPIC can help me to start my personal designed clothesline."
"We are happy to announce that two more fashion firms from China will soon join the D3 community," D3 Director Al-Suwaidi said.