For the next four days, Abu Dhabi sits at the centre of the cultural world. Representatives from influential arts organisations, including the Royal Academy of Arts, UNESCO and the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, gathered at Manarat Al Saadiyat on Monday morning for the launch of the 2019 Culture Summit. And the message was crystal clear: culture must be about inclusivity.
Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, used her opening remarks to remind people that culture should transcend social class. "We believe culture is for everyone, not just for a specific level in the community," she said.
The theme of this year’s Culture Summit programme is Cultural Responsibility and New Technology, and Al Kaabi called on those present to “look for solutions to the questions we haven’t asked before”.
Al Kaabi also reminded people that, for all of the advancements in technology, it must not be allowed “to drive us, we will control it”.
'We want to learn about different culture and religions'
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, echoed Al Kaabi’s call for culture to permeate every echelon of society, and urged people from different cultures to work together. “This summit was created for people to talk, to connect with each other,” he said. “The whole point of this is to [get to] know each other a little bit more, to learn from each other, to solve each other’s problems.
“We all want the same thing,” he continued. “We want music in our schools, Mozart playing in our taxis, Beethoven in our bus systems. We want museums to be open for everybody. We want our kids to know who Chopin is, we want our kids to know who Gauguin is. We want to learn about different cultures and different religions.
“We all want that but we have to do something about it. If we do something about it individually, we might find solutions, we might make it work, but together we can do so much more.”
The opening day of the Culture Summit includes panel discussions on subjects such as, “How can media survive in the age of technology?”, “How can we define popularity versus populism?” and “Why is heritage a priority in crises?”.
Speakers include Apinan Poshyananda, artistic director of the Bangkok Art Biennale and Alexander Kellner, director of the National Museum of Brazil, which a fire devastated late last year.