With Abu Dhabi Art Event, UAE Celebrates Status as ‘Global Hub of Culture’
The Louvre Abu Dhabi (Wikimedia Commons/voyageway.com)

With Abu Dhabi Art Event, UAE Celebrates Status as ‘Global Hub of Culture’

Culture Summit 2022 will unite leading cultural figures from all over the world, in a country that prides itself on a cosmopolitan population and strong artistic investment 

The United Arab Emirates next week hosts its fifth Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi, celebrating its cosmopolitan population and aiming to enshrine its status as a global hub of culture. 

The three-day event, which begins on October 23, seeks to bring together cultural leaders from around the world under the banner “A Living Culture.” 

According to the summit website, the event will include “policymakers, researchers, artists, and culture professionals” who will “examine urgent contemporary issues, which include the impacts of digital media and AI, creative ecosystems and indigenous practices, representation, and topographies of public space.”  

In 2021, the UAE population of 9.99 million included 8.84 million expats, constituting a little under 90% of the population, while Emiratis and UAE nationals accounted for just 1.15 million people, according to the Global Media Insight website. 

The Emirates has long invested in international culture and its capital is home to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the largest art museum in the Arabian peninsula, and the summit includes a tour of the museum. It is also host to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi contemporary art museum, a satellite of the original museum in New York. 

The UAE is indeed a global cultural hub, said Johan Burger, head of executive education at the College of Business and Economics at the University of the United Arab Emirates, telling The Media Line that this is in part due to its large and diverse expat population.

Mohammed Baharoon, director general at B’huth, the Dubai Public Policy Research Centre, told The Media Line that the UAE is a global cultural hub due to its “demographic inclusivity” and “the country’s emphasis on the cultural values that bind different religious and cultural backgrounds.”

In fact, Baharoon said, the UAE had “departments of culture” ever since it had a government.

The upcoming summit, he said, is “also our means of reducing identity polarization” and creating a more harmonious society. 

Burger also pointed out that the UAE has a strong focus on tolerance for different cultures. 

“Next to a Christian church in Abu Dhabi, there is a mosque – the Mary, Mother of Jesus Mosque,” he said, adding that this is an initiative that forms part of the UAE policy to promote inclusion.

Many cultures are represented In the fields of sports, food, music and art, he said, noting that the UAE does this without losing its unique Emirati culture.

“The very fact that so many people from other parts of the world flock to the UAE and try to stay here as long as possible is an indication that they are comfortable living here,” he said. “If the culture was not embracing the differences, people would vote with their feet and leave the country.”  

As well as being of great importance to the Emirates, the summit also presents benefits for its attendees individually and their countries as a whole.

Andrea Dempster Chung, co-founder and executive director at Kingston Creative in Jamaica, and a speaker at this year’s summit, told The Media Line that the event presents “a great opportunity” for sharing challenges and successes, networking with experts and building new partnerships.   

“This event opens up opportunities for global partnerships for Jamaican creatives,” she said.

Dempster Chung places great value on her participation in the summit, saying that in Jamaica, “cultural and creative ecosystems are of fundamental importance both to the lives of individual creatives and to the development of the country.”

As a small nation where culture is one of the fastest growing industries, she said, developing “a healthy creative ecosystem is of critical importance.”

Dempster Chung says that “a healthy cultural ecosystem is vital” as a source of income for nations. She cites Jamaican cities such as Kingston, which she says have “an abundance of talented people and therefore the potential to convert that talent into jobs, sustainable growth and social development for the community.”

Dempster Chung believes that the greatest summit’s strongest asset is the meeting of diverse creative minds from all over the globe in a single place. 

“The power of the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit lies in its ability to bring together such a wide range of amazing cultural experts from around the world,” she said.


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