Understanding each other's culture is the way to peace, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak says

Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence praises expansive role of the arts industry on final day of Culture Summit Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, speaking at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi. Victor Besa / The National
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The understanding and appreciation of culture are imperative to the UAE's social cohesion, cultural dignitaries said on Tuesday at Culture Summit Abu Dhabi.

Speaking on the closing day, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, praised the expansive role the culture sector plays in strengthening community bonds across the country.

“The role of government, the private sector through art exhibits, museums, news organisations, musical events, drama, sporting events, film festivals, literature festivals and poetry contests must all be understood, as well as the contributions of various other communities with different cultures. Religious and philosophical beliefs must be encouraged and appreciated,” he said.

“It has now become supremely urgent that we not only understand the bonds that unite us as a member of the human family, but that we also actively promote and reinforce them.

“The more we understand each other's culture and values, the more sensitive we would become to each other's needs. And the more tolerant we are of the divergent cultures of our global citizens, the closer we will get to world peace.”

The UAE’s cosmopolitan society is informed by Emirati culture and heritage, Sheikh Nahyan noted.

“We Emiratis have a distinctive relationship with God," he added. "We value our own history and traditions. We revere our families. We like to engage and succeed in business. We value our relations with our brothers, sisters, and friends around the world.

“We also support and encourage established and inspiring writers and artists and we take a broad view of culture to include imaginative entrepreneurial efforts related to creative industries.”

Zaki Nusseibeh, cultural adviser to the President, reaffirmed that view in a speech while highlighting the subtle role culture can play in addressing our differences.

“The cultural arts are the canvas and ink we use to chart a path towards a more compassionate tomorrow," he said. “Today we must set aside differences of age, culture, and ideology in order to pave the way for a more harmonious, inclusive, and sustainable society.

“Culture and arts have the power to show us why and to teach us how. They also embolden us to understand and confront the uncertainty of today with courage and conviction. They are a beacon of hope in a volatile world.”

To gain these benefits, leaders and policymakers need to seek out these understandings in all its formats, said Mohammed Al Murr, the acclaimed Emirati novelist and chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Library Foundation.

From pandemics to climate change and the advancement of artificial intelligence, he explained how authors have been warning of such existential concerns for more than a century.

"I don't know if such leaders read these novels or understand some of the warnings contained within," he said.

"These are people who invest in medical research to improve public health, or in studies of viruses and mutations and vaccines. They invest in AI and can influence the policies of climate change or stop useless wars that kill people every day. Sometimes I think we put our hopes in people who don't read literature and listen to guidance.

“I hope I am not sounding pessimistic because I am always an optimist by nature and I still believe culture and science can free us from many of our problems.”

This year’s Culture Summit Abu Dhabi revolved around the theme A Matter of Time, with discussions aiming to provoke a new meaning of time informed by culture, human awareness and nature.

Others who spoke at the three-day event included Minister of Culture Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi and Syrian poet Adonis.

Updated: March 05, 2024, 2:36 PM