The second edition of the Abu Dhabi CultureSummit, titled Unexpected Collaborations: Forging New Connections Between Heritage and Innovation, Near and Far, Creativity and Purpose, focused on partnerships that are unique, different, and which blend tradition and innovation.
The event saw attendance by speakers and personalities from more than 80 countries around the world, demonstrating the global appetite for dialogue in a country that is spearheading regional cultural growth. The recent success of the Louvre Abu Dhabi opening was a clear signal that the Emirate is now on the world map of art destinations, and will continue to attract visitors and dialogue.
The key personalities presiding over this event were their Excellencies Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism, Saif Ghobash, Director General of DCT Abu Dhabi, and Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Chair of the Steering Committee.
As a response to current global challenges, and spread over four days, sessions addressed a variety of topics: from recognising endangered cultures, to the rephrasing of ‘at risk communities’, to the need for educational initiatives, appropriate technologies, and toolkits for measurement of progress.
Sustainability, openness, alternatives to the terrorist image, and tolerance were high on the list of goals. While the art-based dialogue was global, audiences were firmly seen as local. For me, it was particularly heartening to learn of the heritage preservation initiative which is calling for the recording of oral histories, local artefacts and memorabilia.
The younger generation was addressed as a priority group; ideas to explore the digital channels they use, and effective modes of communicating were a matter of enthusiastic discussion. HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak pointed to the new Black Panther film as an example of how the formerly exclusionary film world has now responded successfully to an all-black cast.
An extraordinary range of wonderful performances punctuated the presentation and break-out sessions, with an interdisciplinary approach interweaving music, art and performance.
Such level of dialogue and fermentation of ideas is bound to find favour beyond the borders where the Summit was created. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these days we attend one in Africa or China. What better reason to travel and experience those cultural frontiers than to celebrate a world-class cultural dialogue established by the pioneering spirit of the Abu Dhabi DCT.