Industry demand for UAE-based qualified interior designers has risen significantly in the past decade as the country\'s industry has matured and continues to do so, experts say. As the deadline for entries to the inaugural Danube Student Interior Design Awards draws to a close on Tuesday, Fareeda Al Awadi, president of the UAE-based Association of Professional Interior Designers (APID), said it is such competitions that bring local talent to the forefront. \"Today, there is a great need for good interior designers in the country,\" Fareeda said. \"Right now, we actually hire most of the designers from outside the country while we have a lot of talented students and graduates not getting much exposure or opportunities.\" She added that in the past decade, interior design courses delivered at universities across the UAE have surged significantly due to student demand. She said increased demand illustrates the acceptance of interior design as a viable profession due to societal expansion and market growth. \"A decade ago, interior design was taught on a small scale at UAE universities and some even shut down programmes because there were no jobs for graduates,\" she said. \"As the president of APID, I can safely say we receive great demand for qualified interior designers with knowledge of the local market.\" The Danube competition will see more than 280 registered students from across the GCC countries compete for cash prizes totalling more than Dh80,000. Students will submit design entries in two categories — one of which is a reception lounge for a private Middle Eastern contemporary art museum and the other, a display vitrine for museum artefacts. \"This is the first time a major opportunity like this has come by and I think the whole process is going to be a good experience,\" Jumana Taha, a fourth year interior design student at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), said. \"Competitions give you publicity as a designer and they are a good way to get your name out there and show people what you\'re capable of.\"