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17 April 2024

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi kicks off at Manarat Al Saadiyat


Culture Summit Abu Dhabi kicked off today in the UAE capital with an exceptional programme of keynote speeches, creative talks, panel discussions and cultural performances. The sixth edition brings over participants from 90 countries under the theme of ‘A Matter of Time’.

On the first day of the three-day event, the Summit explored the role of culture in creating collective memories while looking at alternatives to the linear concept of time.

In his welcoming remarks, Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), said, “A Matter of Time is the theme for this year's Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, which serves as an invitation for us all to reflect and pause. Culture Summit is more than just words - issues will be discussed and tangible solutions will be found for global communities. Culture will allow us to understand each other, respect each other, accept and preserve each other’s culture. Once we attain this level of harmony, we will create a world of understanding."

While commenting on the importance of the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, Al Mubarak added, “It is a great honour for us to bring so many nationalities under one roof. We have an exceptional collective of thinkers, artists, changemakers and leaders with us today - at Culture Summit everybody’s voice is heard.”

Al Mubarak introduced world-renowned poet and philosopher Adonis, who gave the Summit’s first keynote speech where he framed the relationship between people and time, exploring both their creative potential and the capabilities of technology in realising human aspirations. “Time is a creation, and we are living in an era of technological advancements and modernism, enslaving us where it should have set us free. At the culture summit, we share one common goal with distinct yet similar views on culture, poetry and art. We are living in an era where nature and creativity are the need of the hour. Technology cannot be creative, cannot think, breathe or feel – technology is not the problem but relying too much on it is,” said Adonis.

Emirati celebrity singer and Goodwill Ambassador at Large Hussain Al Jassmi also took part in a creative conversation with renowned Egyptian Talk Show host Mona Al Shazly, where they discussed the significant role of time in shaping an artist's journey, the UAE's support for creative individuals and the impact of artificial intelligence on Cultural and Creative Industries (CCIs). “The UAE is a strong enabler for creative talents, including emerging artists. I personally received great support from the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who I believe was the first supporter of creative talents in the UAE. In addition, the UAE is the best example of coexistence and harmony, embracing residents of more than 200 nationalities - you can walk across any walkway in the UAE and come across five different dialects and languages.”

Nobel Prize Literature winner, playwright, and Professor of Theatre at NYU Abu Dhabi Wole Soyinka sat in conversation with Manthia Diawara, Professor in the Department of Cinema Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to discuss the intricacies of African culture as well as issues around identity as well as differences in ideologies across the continent due to slavery and the looting of artworks and artefacts.

One session titled ‘First people's knowledge on living in the everywhen’ explored an alternative perspective on the notion of time. Speaking with artists and practitioners from several First People’s communities, the session invited the audience to deconstruct Western conceptions of time and space, moving away from linearity. The work of the four hosted artists (Erena Baker-Arapere and Sarah Hudson of Mataaho Collective, Daniel Boyd of Daniel Boyd Arts, and Nicholas Galanin) demonstrate that time can be perceived as a continuum, where living knowledge is connected through collective memories and possibilities.

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, which runs until 5th March, is organised by DCT Abu Dhabi in collaboration with global partner organisations bringing expertise in diverse fields, from culture and arts to media and technology. The event’s key global partners include UNESCO, Economist Impact, Design Museum, Google, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, and the Recording Academy. Additional event partners include Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, Arab World Institute, Berklee Abu Dhabi, Club de Madrid, Cultural Foundation, IFACCA, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, NYUAD and World Cities Culture Forum, among others.