Often hailed as one of the major fashion and retail capitals of the world, Dubai actually boasts little in the way of home-grown industry talent.
The vast majority of brands sold across the emirate are from international designers - a fact Yahya Stapic, a young entrepreneur, aims to change.
Mr Stapic, 22, is the brains and brawn behind a retail concept that is a unique combination of classic fashion store and retail startup incubator.
The United Designers store, which is expected to launch in Mirdif City Centre on October 6, will showcase and sell the wares of 15 up-and-coming designers living in the UAE.
"We need to develop the home-grown retail sector more, 95 per cent of retail in the UAE is international retailers," says Mr Stapic, the managing director of United Designers. "There needs to be something solid enough to sustain itself."
The 2,000 square foot store will contain an eclectic mix of clothing and accessories, designed by a range of nationalities, including French, Polish, Indian and Emirati.
Mr Stapic and his team, which is backed by Al Tamimi Investments, offers marketing, public relations and retail guidance to all the designers who use the store.
"We open the doors to local fashion talent here and elevate them on a commercial level," said Mr Stapic. "There's a bigger purpose, where we want to activate certain clusters of fashion." Dubai and the UAE have topped global surveys determining the shopping capitals of the world, edging out the traditional retail titans of Paris, Milan and New York. However, in terms of developing local designers and showcasing local work, the UAE is still a relative retail novice.
Companies that have tried to launch locally developed concepts, such as Landmark's Splash Brand, have been welcomed by the UAE public and been commercially successful enterprises.
United Designers is emulating this success by sharing the cost of production and overheads of both the store and merchandise, as well as any profits, with the designers.
United Designers chose Mirdif City Centre as the starting point for the store because it wants to build a loyal customer base of locals and avoid reliance on the swathes of tourists on which the bigger malls such as Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates are dependent.
There are also limits set by the operators of certain malls, which mean many retailers have to have a number of years trading experience before opening a store - a requirement United Designers could not meet.
"We are positioned between a high-end designer store and a high street store," explains Mr Stapic. "We are not saying we are Gucci or H&M and limiting our style."
The winner last year of the inaugural Big Start competition run by Al Tamimi Investments, Mr Stapic is being fully funded by the investment holding company, having received Dh2 million (US$545,000) to start the project
The Big Start is run every year to give a university graduate the opportunity to launch a commercially viable business idea.
Mr Stapic hopes to make a 10 per cent margin in the first year of trading as shoppers and fashionistas in Dubai look for something more quirky than the well-known international brands.
"We are confident in the UAE trying out new fashion. Sales will be positive for the year," he said.