Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2024: Minister of Culture calls for 'urgent co-ordinated action'

Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi says creative industries can offer solutions to global crises

Keynote by Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture of the UAE, during the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2024 held at Manarat Al Saadiyat. Victor Besa / The National
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The culture sector can play an integral role in efforts to tackle the major crises engulfing the world, according to Minister of Culture Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi.

In his speech at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi on Monday, Sheikh Salem said cultural and creative industries can offer solutions due to their inherent innovation and deep-rooted understanding of shared history.

“We cannot exist in a vacuum and have to be mindful of how global events are reshaping the world around us,” he told delegates. “Climate change, conflict destruction and health emergencies pose significant threats. All aspects of our lives are being affected, including our culture and our heritage.

“We must use this opportunity to gather here, over the course of the summit, to find real tangible solutions for us and the global communities in order to protect and preserve various forms of cultural expressions. Urgent co-ordinated action is needed now more than ever.”

Inside Abu Dhabi's 2024 Culture Summit

Inside Abu Dhabi's 2024 Culture Summit

Referring to Cop 28, which took place in Dubai in December, Sheikh Salem said the establishment of the Group of Friends of Culture-Based Climate Action can play an important role by providing international recognition for culture-based climate action.

Co-chaired by the UAE and Brazil minister of cultures, the body was described by Sheikh Salem as an “informal coalition” of 32 countries and 25 intergovernmental and civil society organisations which aims to build political support for urgent policies to tackle climate change. The group is due to issue a report at Cop 29 in Azerbaijan in November.

Sheikh Salem also praised the success of last month's Unesco World Conference on Culture and Art Education in Abu Dhabi. The gathering of 190 ministers of education and culture concluded with a resolution to adopt a new international framework for art and culture education.

“The framework also recognised the significance of developing artistic and cultural knowledge so that the younger generation is able to pursue it in a professional capacity in the future,” he said.

The creative industries also need to be part of the conversation when it comes to grappling with rapid technological advancements, Sheikh Salem said. “Artificial intelligence has revolutionised the way culture is being produced and consumed,” he said.

“While it can present itself as a helpful tool in various aspects of cultural dissemination and promotion, we must also remember that safeguarding individual creativity and expression must remain a priority. Digital transformation and culture must serve to bridge gaps and definitely not widen them.

“Generative AI and other technology advancements are, however, making it clear that intellectual property protection today is more crucial than ever.”

Sheikh Salem pointed to the UAE’s National Strategy for Artificial Intelligence as an example of inclusive policymaking. “It is a blueprint for integrating artificial intelligence into various sectors including culture,” he added. “This strategy is not limited to economic growth, but also considers how we can enrich our cultural landscape for a sustainable and more liveable future.

“As practitioners, as policymakers, it's imperative that we consider how AI can help us transform cultural experiences and make them accessible and fair to the wider audience.”

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi continues until Tuesday. Other government dignitaries scheduled to speak include Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence.

There will also be discussions by industry leaders such as Harvey Mason Jr, 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 05, 2024, 7:33 AM