Culture Summit Abu Dhabi reveals programme for online event as it opens to the public for the first time

Case studies, panel discussion, artist talks and performances will run from March 8 to 10

A range of high-profile people will be involved in this year's virtual Culture Summit, including, from left: UAE Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi; director of Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation and Museum Richard Armstrong; and Unesco's director general Audrey Azoulay. UAE Ministry of Culture & Knowledge Development, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, Pawan Singh / The National
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The Culture Summit Abu Dhabi returns for the fourth year in an online format that is for the first time open to the public, exploring the theme of the Cultural Economy and the Economy of Culture.

Organised by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, the summit will bring global experts in the fields of design, heritage, media, public policy, technology and business for a series of speeches, panel discussions, case studies, artist talks and performances.

“Culture Summit is ambitious in its goal to produce innovative, globally impactful propositions by connecting cultural leaders with key voices from diverse yet related fields, and we will amplify that impact even further this year, through our first virtual and public edition," said Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT – Abu Dhabi, in a statement.

“In a time when the viability of these industries and their practitioners have been particularly affected by current global events, Culture Summit’s discussions will be vital ones, that must result in concrete outcomes. To this end, we are incredibly proud to see Abu Dhabi serve as a platform that brings together this calibre of participants, alongside our esteemed partners,” he added.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT - Abu Dhabi. DCT - Abu Dhabi
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT - Abu Dhabi. DCT - Abu Dhabi

The programme will explore the challenges and opportunities of developing adaptable, resilient and collaborative creative ecosystems, and the socioeconomic benefits that vibrant cultural and creative industries around the world deliver, with a focus on knowledge exchange and policy development.

This will all be explored over the three-day programme that will run from Monday to Wednesday, March 8 to 10.

Here are some highlights from this year's Culture Summit programme:

Speeches and conversations

Following welcoming remarks by Al Mubarak, Audrey Azoulay, Unesco's director general, will give the opening address. Throughout the summit, other keynote addresses will be made by UAE Minister of Culture and Youth Noura Al Kaabi, architect Sir David Chipperfield, American singer and songwriter Charlie Puth, British sculptor Sir Antony Gormley, philosopher and political scientist Achille Mbembe and sociologist Andras Szantos.

Panel discussions

Discussions will explore the post-Covid sector recovery and transformation, envisioning a new system that is more adaptable in the future. Also to be discussed is how the creative economy can advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals in education, economy, innovation and infrastructure, reduce inequality, and promote sustainable cities and communities.

These panel discussions will bring together a number of high-profile speakers, including Richard Armstrong, director of Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation and Museum; Tim Marlow, chief executive and director of the Design Museum; Laurent Gaveau, head of Google Arts & Culture Lab; Roger Brown, president of Berklee College of Music; Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi; British artist and designer Es Devlin; and vegan speaker and activist Earthling Ed, among many others.

Case studies

The programme will also include case study presentations from institutions such as Google Arts & Culture Lab, presented by Lab project manager Marylene Ricci; the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, presented by its executive director Rima Mismar; as well as from Lebanon's Sarkis Khoury from the Ministry of Culture; and Chiara Dezzi Bardeschi of Unesco's Working Group LiBeirut, who will be talking about the post-disaster rehabilitation.

Louvre Abu Dhabi's director Manuel Rabate will also discuss the museum's challenges and opportunities.

Artist talks

Local and international artists will also give talks. This includes Emirati artist Farah Al Qasimi, jeweller Azza Al Qubaisi, and Zuhoor Al Sayegh and Hashel Al Lamki of Bait 15. Lebanese artist Rayyane Tabet will also be conversation with Sasha Kalter-Wasserman of the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project.


Similar to previous years, the summit will feature a number of performances by international artists, including a screening of work by contemporary artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan, which will be followed by a conversation with Jessica Cerasi, assistant curator at the Guggenheim Museum.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - APRIL 26:  Angelique Kidjo performs on stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 26, 2015 in New Orleans, United States  (Photo by Leon Morris/Redferns via Getty Images)
Angelique Kidjo will perform for the Culture Summit. Getty Images

Iraqi oud player Naseer Shamma, Beninese-American singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, Moroccan singer-songwriter Oum and Tunisian musician Ghalia Benali will also perform.

Attendance is free and open to the public. Registration is live on the Culture Summit website