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Middle East – A Prime Market For J’can Culture

The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority (JSEZA) is harnessing collaboration in hopes of taking the Jamaican culture and creative industry to the Middle East market.

Representatives of JSEZA are in Dubai as part of the Jamaican delegation participating in the six-month World Expo 2020 Dubai, securing business, trade and investment opportunities for the country.

JSEZA’s Manager, Business Facilitation and Acceleration Services, Kevon Farquharson, shares with JIS News that from students who participate in school tours of the Jamaica Pavilion to high-level officials and everyone in between, the Jamaican culture resonates with visitors.

“Especially for the school tours, the history section and the cultural aspect of things are very important, and the kids appreciate it. Sometimes you will see a visitor come in and you are looking for them to move to another section and they just won’t move…we engage them, ask them a few questions and they [will say], ‘You guys are a small nation; you guys went through so much; you guys have this huge impact…you have the Bob Marley, the Usain Bolt, the Chris Gayle’,” discloses Mr. Faquharson.

“Persons can tell you straight up about our culture, and even some of the influencers that come to the Pavilion, they want us to showcase specific parts of our culture because they know so much about it,” he continues.

A noteworthy moment for the delegation was the visit of a high-level official who entered the Pavilion playing songs from Peter Tosh on his mobile device and throughout his tour.

The 2021 release of No Time to Die, the latest in the James Bond series, which was filmed in Jamaica, has put a spotlight on the local creative industry. This, Mr. Farquharson said, has led to “our creatives being recognised when they [investors] look at our entertainment sector”.

The creative industry is listed as one of the priority industries for Special Economic Zone (SEZ) operations in Jamaica. JSEZA, in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport (MGCES), has identified avenues for Jamaica to benefit from the demand in the Middle East.


Director, Policy and Research for the Jamaica Creative Unit within the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, David Brown (left), takes students from a school in Dubai on a tour of the cultural zone inside the Jamaica Pavilion at World Expo 2020 Dubai. The information shared on Jamaica’s culture is well received by visitors to the Pavilion. Some visitors demonstrate extensive knowledge of the island.


JSEZA’s Senior Director, Regulations, Policy, Monitoring and Enforcement Ainsley Brown, highlighted the examples of an all-African e-commerce platform and Dubai’s All Africa Festival which could provide multi-faceted benefits for Jamaicans.

“On their platform, there are already a few Jamaican products that we have seen but there is room for growth and this is a mechanism through which this market can be accessed…The All Africa Festival…is…another business opportunity, because…there’s opportunities for vending and showcasing of Jamaican made products, our cuisine, culture, artistes and all kinds of different things,” Mr. Brown details.

The all-African e-commerce platform targets the African diaspora with their products while the All Africa Festival is a celebration of the continent and its diaspora which allows tourists and residents of Dubai to enjoy African cuisine and performances which have, in the past, included Jamaicans.

Mr. Brown shares that the response to Jamaican pepper sauce, Blue Mountain coffee and candles from Blue Mountain Aromatics, all available inside the Jamaica Pavilion, is an indicator of the demand for Jamaican products.

Similarly, JSEZA’s ‘Sustain-a-livity’ brand, which is a harmonious living philosophy developed through the awareness and expansion of workstyle, lifestyle and spiritual interests, has garnered interest from potential investors.

“They instantly love it and eat it up. They [will say] ‘you guys are ahead of the game because you’ve clearly integrated sustainability within what you do’. From application reviews right down to facilitation of business, we integrated it in everything that we do,” explains Mr. Brown.

Sustain-a-livity, which borrows concepts from Rastafarianism, which is endemic to Jamaican culture, sees JSEZA incorporating as many UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into its operations as possible. The collaboration between the MGCES and JSEZA in making linkages between the cultural interest and opportunities in the Middle East and the resources based in Jamaica, embodies aspects of SDG 17.

The Jamaica Special Economic Zone Authority will continue to engage potential investors and business operators at World Expo 2020 Dubai until its end on March 31, 2022. Connections and contacts are being made and shared between manufacturers associations, chambers of commerce and the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).

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