Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2024 begins with plea for respect and understanding

The opening day's keynote addresses focused on the socio-economic impact of creative industries

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi began with an Al Ayyala performance at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The power of culture to transform societies is a key message from the opening day of this year's Culture Summit Abu Dhabi.

Running at Manarat Al Saadiyat until Tuesday, the sixth iteration of the event brings together thought leaders from various fields, including government, the arts, heritage, film and music for discussions surrounding their respective sectors.

In his opening keynote speech, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, reaffirmed the summit’s mission to elevate the importance of culture in policy circles.

"In today's world, we need culture more than ever as it allows us to understand each other a little bit more,” he said. “Once we get to this level, then we are in a world of understanding where dialogue will solve issues and nothing else.

“We'll return to the days of intellectual thought of understanding each other's backgrounds, our pasts and our present equally.”

Mubarak outlined part of DCT Abu Dhabi's expansive strategy in creating a thriving creative economy in the emirate, while elevating the role of culture on the world stage.

For the latter, he points to last month's Unesco World Conference on Culture and Arts Education held in Abu Dhabi, which brought 190 ministers of education and culture together in order to create a new international framework for art and culture education.

“We have adopted a multi-stakeholder approach to take forward our vision of a more sustainable cultural sector in the future.

“Our cultural and creative industry strategy aims to increase the socio-economic impact and value of the cultural and creative industries in Abu Dhabi," he said.

In the last decade, we have forged alliances, partnerships with global players to address the importance of culture
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the DCT Abu Dhabi

“But it really doesn't stop there. We're not just looking within, we're also looking outwards. In the last decade, we have forged alliances, partnerships with global players to address the importance of culture.

“Our strategic investments in capacity building, cultural institution development, knowledge sharing, public engagement are testament to our belief in the power of culture education to inspire creativity, critical thinking, and a deeper understanding of our shared humanity.”

Mubarak urged delegates to harness the connections made from the conference to help create meaningful change within their fields.

“These are not just words in summits like this. Our job is to make sure we find platforms and other solutions to be a positive voice for our youth,” he said.

“They will be the catalyst to make sure all of our actions and all of our fruits bear. “

The theme of this year's event is A Matter of Time, with discussions aiming to provoke a new meaning of the definition of time.

According to programme notes, it is one embracing "new cultural time, one that is realigned with the rhythm of human awareness and nature".

Syrian poet Adonis, who has been regularly nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1988, supports the new definition for its liberating effects on human nature.

"When man lives according to his creative nature, they will be a source of continuous innovation," he said. "Understanding that is the key to a person's relationship with himself, to others and the world."

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi will continue with further keynote speeches by government dignitaries including Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture, and Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.

There will also be discussions by industry leaders such as Harvey Mason Jr, the chief executive of the Recording Academy, which organises the Grammy Awards, about the growing influence of artificial intelligence in creative industries.

The full programme and registration details are at

Updated: March 04, 2024, 1:20 PM