The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced that its fifth edition of Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, a leading global forum, will return to Manarat Al Saadiyat under the theme ‘A Living Culture’. Designed to explore the future of the culture sector and discuss creative cultural solutions to some of the most urgent issues affecting the world today, the in-person event will run from 23 to 25 October, 2022 in the UAE capital. 

This year’s theme ‘A Living Culture’ will examine contemporary issues driving change in the culture and creative industries (CCI) and the wider culture sector today. The programme will explore what it means to embrace culture as a lived experience in a world that has been transformed by COVID-19, and better understand the pervasive influence culture has had on our individual and collective lives. Culture Summit Abu Dhabi will harness the expertise of attending cultural leaders, artists, practitioners, scholars, educators and creative professionals to discuss these urgent contemporary issues.

The programme is curated so that each day examines a sub-theme in more detail. On the first day, Living Cultural Ecosystems will take a sectoral perspective, looking at the emergence of more dynamic or living cultural and creative ecosystems that are more adaptable, resilient and responsive to change. This theme looks at culture sector issues and challenges in producing and disseminating culture in the wake of the pandemic, particularly when it comes to new, more dynamic or living cultural or creative ecosystems. On that day, the Summit will notably welcome three former Heads of States, Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania (2009-2019); Ivo Josipović, President of Croatia (2010-2015) and Joyce Banda, President of Malawi (2012-2014) moderated by HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor to the President of UAE to explore the role of culture in making resilient and shared societies. All creative fields will be reviewed through this lens with an exceptional keynote conversation between HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, and world-renowned comedian and television host Trevor Noah. Performances by key figures from the performing arts scene, discussions on diversity in Hollywood creative industries ,on the role of the collector and the power of culture districts, creative presentations by artists, film screenings, workshops and policy sessions all occurring in a  multi-track programme.

On the second day, Living in Culture will consider how culture impacts people and communities through the lens of changing patterns of cultural participation. This theme looks at how the pandemic forced the sector to innovate in order to survive. Particularly during times of lockdown, access to these digital cultural products and services became a social and psychological lifeline and part of people’s daily routine and experience. During this second day, that will start with a key note by the UAE Minister of Culture and Youth, HE Noura Al Kaabi, participants to the Summit will be notably invited to explore the role of AI on the future of culture through panel discussions, case studies by cutting-edge tech companies such as TeamLab as well as an exceptional creative conversation between Tim Marlow, Director of the Design Museum and Ai-Da, the world’s first ultra-realistic artist robot. Panos A. Panay, President of the Recording Academy will also explore in conversation with Jimmy Jam the relationship between “Technology, Creativity, and the Changing Face of Pop Culture” followed by a keynote from celebrated architect and Director of Forensic Architecture Eyal Weizman. A deep dive into the vibrant cultural scene in Afghanistan will be explored in a panel followed by a performance from whirling dervish female dancer Fahima Mirzaie. and a panel moderated by the Guggenheim Museum alongside artist, Emeka Ogboh and architect Jing Liu will unpack what makes a public space today and conclude the second day programme.

Finally, Culture, Diversity, Power will focus on the critical challenges related to the protection and promotion of cultural diversity and the diversity of cultural expression and how policies can support in a sustainable way the expression of this diversity. This theme focuses on critical challenges related to the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expression, and the policies and structures of enablement being implemented to sustain diversity. While this theme of diversity and inclusion will permeate through the entire Summit, on this closing day two critical panel discussions will be organised on “Creating a Richer Chorus” and “The New Canon”. The notion of diversity will also be explored in the panel moderated by Berklee Abu Dhabi on “Integrating Cultural Diversity through Music”. Highlight keynotes and creative conversations featured that day include architects Sumayya Vally, Sir David Adjaye OBE and Berklee President Erica Muhl. The day will start by a performance of Al Ahalla, a traditional UAE maritime chant, and end with a performance by the Global Jazz Project, a multicultural music project by Grammy Award-winning artist Danilo Perez, featuring musician Charbel Rouhana.

Other topics that will also be discussed during the Summit include: the impact of digital media and Artificial Intelligence, some geographical focus such East Africa and the arts and culture, culture and climate emergency, among others.

Additionally, this year's programme hosts high-level speakers including Ernesto Ottone Ramirez, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Culture, Fiammetta Rocco, Culture Editor at the Economist, Dr Helena Nassif director of Culture Resource (Al-Mawred Al-Thaqafy), Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, producer Jennifer Stockman, award-winning architect Frank Gehry and collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens among many others.

The Summit programme features an outstanding series of keynotes, panel discussions, artist talks, workshops, film screenings, creative conversations, and cultural performances. Performances will be interwoven withing the plenaries and will include heritage performances on the onset of every morning, including a dance performance by hip-hop choreographer Kader Attou, and a musical performance by renowned Oud player and composer Naseer Shamma.  

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, said: “We are excited once again to organise, alongside some incredible global partners, Culture Summit Abu Dhabi in the UAE’s capital. Abu Dhabi is committed to be a meeting place for cultural experts and professionals from various fields of expertise to come together and discuss the future of our sector and how we can build a diverse and more sustainable cultural ecosystem. As we get ready to welcome these global leaders, we are reminded of the shared responsibility we have to find solutions and shape policies that can address the pressing issues of our time and find ways to drive change in our global industry.”

“The 5th Culture Summit Abu Dhabi presents a timely opportunity for cultural stakeholders worldwide to share a common vision to revise current models and imagine more sustainable and resilient pathways for the future,” says Ernesto Ottone R., Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO.

“It’s a pleasure for the Design Museum to be one of the convening partners in Culture Summit 2022 bringing together creative people from across the design world and joining creative thinkers, cultural leaders, artists and change makers from across the globe as we all meet together in Abu Dhabi,” says Tim Marlow, Director of the Design Museum.

“The Summit provides an opportunity to hold conversations around important cultural questions while incorporating worldwide audiences. It offers an all-too-rare opportunity for artists and thinkers to envision the future,” says Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation.

“The most exciting part of the Culture Summit is the many fascinating people I meet. Listening to them speak allows me to step into their shoes and experience the world from a whole new perspective. They offer a whole new perspective on the phrase "eye-opening",” says Fiammetta Rocco, Senior Editor and Culture Editor of The Economist.

“We are thrilled to partner with Culture Summit Abu Dhabi and are looking forward to discovering ways we can all work together to ignite the power of music. The Middle East is a true 'Living Culture' and home to so many different thriving music scenes and this summit is a great opportunity to shine a light on this vibrant music community,” says Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of The Recording Academy.

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2022 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. Partners include UNESCO, Economist Impact, Google, the Design Museum, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation and the Recording Academy. Other participating partners include Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Film Commission, Sandstorm Comics, Cultural Foundation, Louvre Abu Dhabi, Berklee Abu Dhabi, Culture Resource, Arab Fund for Arts & Culture, and the Institut Français.  

Those looking to attend Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2022 can register their interest on the website: The event is by-invitation only and spaces are limited.