400 experts from 80 countries to attend Abu Dhabi CultureSummit

Four-day event to feature participants discussing role of culture in solving world issues

Abu Dhabi: How can culture play a role in solving global issues? That’s a question policymakers, artists, philanthropists and media personalities will be examining as the second edition of the Abu Dhabi CultureSummit that opens on Monday.

This year’s event, which runs until April 12, will feature 400 participants from 80 countries, and will also include several performances and art exhibits alongside the daily panel discussions.

“It is time to look at a new approach to the role culture plays in international relations, exploring how it can be a tangible force for positive change. The UAE is an example of how cultural integration and tolerance has impactfully built a nation. This summit and its outcomes will be a beacon to those who seek new solutions to pressing global challenges,” said Noora Mohammad Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, commenting on the objectives and goals for this year’s summit.

Saif Gobash, director general, Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, said: “As a centre of cultural dialogue, Abu Dhabi brings experts and professionals from all fields to one place, and strives to cement its position as a key player on the international stage for discussing and developing solutions to global issues that affect the future of communities around the world.

“By presenting innovative and practical remedies through the use of soft power, Abu Dhabi inspires ideas and notions that promote tolerance, coexistence and cultural exchange among all nationalities,” he added.

David Rothkopf, chief executive officer at Rothkopf Group, and one of the co-founders of CultureSummit, said the UAE was an ideal home for the summit, with its openness to other cultures and its official policy of tolerance.

If we can promote tolerance, promote exchanges, and promote the benefits of sharing awareness we then undercut the arguments of the extremists. I think one of the big problems in fighting extremism is that it’s easy to define what extremism is, but you don’t win until you define what you’re for,” he said.

“One of the things that sets the UAE apart is its emphasis on tolerance and having an open society, the country is a global hub and so I think it’s harnessing this kind of view that can have a positive effect in the region,” he added.

And just like the annual gathering of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, Rothkopf said the goal of the summit was to turn it into the Davos of culture.

“We thought perhaps there was an opportunity to create a kind of Davos of culture, a place where you bring together global leaders to discuss how culture really drives change in the world.

“It’s culture that drives political views, it’s culture that drives divisions within societies, and it’s also culture that brings them together,” he added.

Carla Dirlikov, this year’s artistic director for the CultureSummit, said the event would also feature its first artist incubator, bringing together 60 artists and asking them how they can solve modern day challenges through art.

“This year we are inaugurating our artist incubator, and the idea is to bring 60 artists from all disciplines from all parts of the world including the UAE. The artists will be broken down into six groups, with each group being given a question such as how would they use art and culture to combat extremism for example.

“Over the course of the week they will meet and discuss how they can use their craft to come up with solutions,” she added.

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