Abu Dhabi Culture Summit: “A Living Culture”

A living culturewas the theme of this year’s Abu Dhabi Culture Summit. Policy makers and world leaders in the fields of art, heritage, museums and technology gathered to examine how culture can transform societies and communities Organized by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, this event has gathered more than 180 thought leaders from around the world.

The role of culture in creating resilient and shared societies was at the center of a discussion between three former heads of state: Dalia GrybauskaitePresident of Lithuania (2009-2019); Ivo JosipovicPresident of Croatia (2010-2015) e Joyce BandaPresident of Malawi (2012-2014) e Zaki NusseibehCultural Advisor to the President of the United Arab Emirates.

What must we do to use culture as a remedy for the ills of our nations, our societies and become a global family again?“Asked Joyce Banda, the former first female president of Malawi.

Looking back to make sense of the present, encouraging new voices to speak up, increasing social responsibility and diversity were some of the issues discussed at this summit.

Culture is everywhere. We want it to be interconnected. We want to be able to ensure that the less privileged have their voice in the culture, that they too are taken into account. We want to ensure that Culture remains stable, especially during crises; be it wars, pandemics or whatever. May it be preserved. But we also want culture to be able to transform society to make it better and progressive.Reem Ghaith Fadda, director of the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation and Cultural Sites at the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, told Euronews.

The comedian Trevor Noah and architects Frank Gehry And David Adjaye as well as the author of the Emirates Omar Saif Ghobash were among the renowned speakers who took part in the three-day summit.

Participants were able to attend numerous performances by regional artists, including the Lebanese singer Jahida Wehbethe Iraqi musician Naser Shammah and the Afghan dancer Fahima Mirzaie.


Many topics were discussed. Afghanistan, for example, through a cultural lens; the future of design in East Africa, but also disability and difference as a creator of creativity or even creative philosophy of the first humanoid robot artist in the world, Ai-Da.

Ai-Da is acultural, but it is so symptomatic of so many aspects of different cultures. He is not just a pioneer of Western technology. The pioneering technologies of the Middle East are also important. There are other parts of the world where the impact of the effects of Artificial Intelligence and this type of technology is profound. It is therefore a brilliant microcosm that should and must really belong to everyone“, has explained Tim Marlowdirector and CEO of the London Design Museum.

Tim Marlow also recognized that while AI was an opportunity, it was also a threat. “I imagine we have an ethical responsibility to collectively try to understand how far this can go“, He added.

Action for climate and culture

The importance of action against climate change for the protection of cultural heritage in the world was also underlined.

For Ernesto Ottone RamirezAssistant Director General of Culture of UNESCO: “Climate change affects everything we know. In 10 years, 20 countries will have completely disappeared from the map. The protection of culture, arts and heritage are powerful tools for building peace. This is what should be important, whether culture is used in all systems, education or health, as a lever for better rebuilding.

Cinema and culture

In-depth discussions about the films have focused on topics such as film tourism, Bollywood globalization, creative production and the universe of Dune, the successful film franchise.

Hans Fraikin, Film Commissioner of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, told Euronews: “We don’t always put film, television and screen-based entertainment in the category of cultural and creative industries. And it is important to explain the importance of film and television not only as a form of cultural expression, but also as a distribution platform (…) I think the Abu Dhabi Film Commission plays an important role in Abu Dhabi’s cultural expression , especially when we attract a project, be it a movie, a TV series or even a music video set in Abu Dhabi“.

When you have a movie like Mission Impossible, which is seen by a billion people around the world, and is set in Abu Dhabi, it has a positive economic impact on film tourism.“, Added Hans Fraikin.

Last year, world cultural leaders recognized that the post-pandemic cultural crisis was profound and unprecedented. Now that the pressure generated by Covid-19 has eased slightly, this three-day summit has helped to highlight the power of culture in the process of social inclusion and the strengthening of its influence for the societies of tomorrow.

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