The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT- Abu Dhabi) has launched the sixth edition of its leading global forum, Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, which will return to Manarat Al Saadiyat in the UAE capital, from 29-31 October 2023.

Held under the theme A Matter of Time, the sixth edition will gather more than 90 thought leaders and experts from various fields of culture including art, heritage, media, music, museums, public policy and technology, to explore how culture can change the world’s interpretation of time.

Experts, creative thinkers, artists, change makers, policy makers and leaders from the culture and creative industries will look into how this change is impacting the way culture is produced, received and consumed, and the role that culture could play to help navigate a moment of inflection to relate to the notion of time. The summit’s sessions will shift away from mechanical time characteristic of the contemporary era, to a new cultural time, realigned with the rhythm of human awareness and nature.

This year’s programme features a multi-track agenda consisting of a series of keynotes, plenary sessions, panel discussions, artist talks, case study workshops, creative conversations, policy sessions, cultural performances and a visual art exhibition.

First held in 2017, Culture Summit Abu Dhabi is an annual global convening that harnesses the expertise of policy makers, researchers, artists and culture professionals to examine contemporary issues facing cultural industries, with the ambition to identify ways in which culture can transform societies and communities worldwide and turn these into actions and solutions. A forum of knowledge exchange, debate, and policy development, Culture Summit is organised by DCT-Abu Dhabi in partnership with global organisations, which this year include UNESCO, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, Economist Impact, the Design Museum, Google, and the Recording Academy, among others.

His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “The sixth edition of the Culture Summit Abu Dhabi will explore the role of culture in changing the world’s tempo by offering a closer look at our relation to time. As we navigate a modern, complex world, we must ask ourselves how does our relation to time impact the way we produce and consume culture now, and in the future.

“We look forward to welcoming academics, policymakers and innovators from around the globe to Abu Dhabi to address this concept to drive change in the creative industries and wider cultural landscape. Culture Summit Abu Dhabi continues to be a cornerstone of a diverse cultural programme which is curated to inspire creativity and knowledge development; helping to diversify and build a knowledge-based economy.”

Each day, the summit programme will follow a specific sub-theme to examine how people’s relation to time has evolved, highlighting the challenges this evolution represents for the culture and creative sectors, and provide focused, functional solutions. 

Day one - Time to Remember (The passage of time): The sessions during the first day examine how people make sense of the course of time and the role of culture in creating collective memories, as well as ways to reconcile the past, present and future to develop new productive common grounds.

Day two - Time to Act (Seizing the moment): The second day will shed light on the spread of fast culture and the capacity to deal with complexity, creating significant disruptions to how culture is produced, received and consumed.

Day three - Time to Share (A never-ending time): The third day will explore solutions to bring people together and reconciling humans and nature through the space of time. The sessions will focus on highlighting what culture can offer in the wake of new long-time horizons by introducing the notion of deep time. The sessions will also discuss the global challenge of climate change and the need to bridge the gap between generations.  

Ernesto Ottone R, Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, said: “2023 is a landmark year for the culture sector. At a mid-point in the implementation of the SDGs, artists and culture professionals can bring new solutions to fill existing gaps. The time is now to act for the integration of culture as a standalone goal in the post 2030 international development agenda.”

Kenneth Cukier, Deputy Executive Editor at The Economist, said: “As AI forges ahead, culture is vital – an expression of our human values and shared destiny. Economist Impact is honoured to be a part of the annual Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, celebrating the power of narrative to shape our individual and collective identities for progress and purpose.”

Tim Marlow OBE, Chief Executive and Director at the Design Museum, said: “Culture Summit Abu Dhabi has established itself over a relatively short time as a critical forum for bringing together cultural communities from across the world. This year feels timely in every respect and the Design Museum is relishing the prospect of staging conversations between architects, designers, dancers, choreographers, artists, philosophers, futurists, writers, and curators to explore where we are and where we might be heading.”

Anthony Nakache, Managing Director at Google MENA, said: “We're pleased to continue our partnership with DCT-Abu Dhabi at their Culture Summit to discuss how our digital products can support culture, global and local travel. We have long supported the UAE's rich culture and heritage through products like Google Maps, Google Arts and Culture, and YouTube, and are committed to keep doing so.”

Richard Armstrong, Director Emeritus, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said: “The Guggenheim has developed a close relationship with DCT-Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi audiences over the past 15 years. The Culture Summit attracts today’s most creative thinkers and makers in conversations that demonstrate our shared and hopeful future.”

Harvey Mason Jr., CEO at the Recording Academy, and Panos A. Panay, President, the Recording Academy, said: “We’re thrilled to partner with Culture Summit Abu Dhabi for what’s sure to be an extraordinary exchange of knowledge and ideas. Music and creative expression continue to shape human behaviour and emotion, and we look forward to collaborating with global leaders as we explore ways in which culture can change the world’s tempo.”

Additional Culture Summit Abu Dhabi partners include Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, Arab World Institute, Berklee Abu Dhabi, Club de Madrid, Cultural Foundation, International Federation of Arts Councils and Culture Agencies, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Louvre Abu Dhabi, New York University Abu Dhabi, World Cities Culture Forum, and Zayed National Museum, among others.

In previous editions of Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, the forum welcomed speakers from the UAE and from around the world including Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, Her Excellency Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, President and Director of Sharjah Art Foundation, Frank Gehry, architect and designer, as well as Trevor Noah, comedian and writer.

DCT-Abu Dhabi and UNESCO also co-published the Culture in Times of COVID-19: Resilience, Recovery and Revival report, providing a global overview of the impact of the pandemic on the culture sector since March 2020, and outlining directions for its revival.