Culture Summit Abu Dhabi Announces Participant and Performer Highlights

April 8 – 12, 2018

Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi

Seeking to forge cultural solutions for today’s global challenges, delegates from more than 80 countries will attend CultureSummit 2018 in Abu Dhabi, making it the largest global gathering of top government officials, philanthropists, arts administrators, business leaders, technologists and artists in the world.


The Summit’s action-driven programme of expert panels, discussions and workshops will aim to identify and support new ideas for harnessing the power of culture to address some of the world’s greatest challenges. With a special focus on arts education, panels will cover topics such as preserving heritage, promoting positive environmental change and combating violent extremism around the Summit’s 2018 theme of Unexpected Collaborations.


The event will also feature a series of curated performances, exhibits, and interventions by renowned artists and musicians across the world, from the European Union Youth Orchestra to Abu Dhabi’s Bait Al Oud musical academy, with new collaborations transcending disciplinary and cultural boundaries.

HE Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development of the United Arab Emirates and Chairman of the Steering Committee of CultureSummit 2018 Abu Dhabi, said: “Following last year’s successful inaugural edition, we are extremely pleased to see the interest CultureSummit Abu Dhabi has generated with some of the world’s leading innovators and decision makers, many of whom have agreed to participate in this year’s iteration. As a global cultural hub, Abu Dhabi convenes the most remarkable community of like-minded creatives and policy makers to address global issues from poverty and women’s empowerment to violent extremism and conflict.”




Participant Highlights


Programme highlights for the 2018 edition of CultureSummit include opening sessions on “Emerging Trends in the Arts and Media Worldwide: What’s Next” and “Case Studies in Unexpected Collaborations”. Talks will feature such speakers as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Artistic Director Nancy Spector; Drew Bennett, Founder and Director of Facebook’s Artist-in-Residence Program; Touria el Glaoui, Founder, 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, and Molly Fannon, Director of International Relations at the Smithsonian Institution, and Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi.


Additional headline speakers include: H.E. Maqsud Kruse, Executive Director, Hedayah Center; H.E. Omar Ghobash, UAE Ambassador to France; Hannah Godefa, UNICEF Ambassador to Ethiopia; Abdul Waheed Khalili, Director, Turquoise Mountain Institute for Afghan Art; Manny Ansar, Founder of the Timbuktu Festival au Désert; George Richards, Head of Heritage, Art Jameel Foundation; Isao Matsushita, Vice President, Tokyo University of the Arts; Drew Bennett, Founder and Head of Artist in Residence Program, Facebook; Liao Yanru, Artistic Director, China National Symphony; fashion designer Carla Fernández; and Tom Standage, Deputy Editor of The Economist; among others.


Mohamed Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Tourism and Culture, and member of CultureSummit Abu Dhabi Steering Committee, said: “We are building a global cultural capital in Abu Dhabi, as illustrated by the recent opening of Louvre Abu Dhabi and the other world class arts and educational facilities and programmes here. The idea of CultureSummit is not simply to celebrate the arts. It is to promote the best kinds of cultural entrepreneurship – harnessing the power the arts have to elevate and promote positive change.”

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak




Alongside the four-day speaker programme, CultureSummit 2018 Abu Dhabi will feature a series of performances and interventions by renowned performers and artists.


Artistic programming will include a special screening by Sundance Institute of the prize-winning film Kailash and discussion with its namesake, Nobel Peace LaureateKailash Satyarthi and Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam moderated by The Economist’s Culture Editor Fiammetta Rocco, as well as a performance byYo Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble, previewing new work.


The CultureSummit 2018 Artists-in-Residence are acclaimed British photographer Jimmy Nelson, whose work documents indigenous cultures with digital technology, Latvian violinist Gidon Kremer, American-Peruvian interdisciplinary visual artist Grimanesa Amorós, and Emirati poet Afra Atiq. Considered as thought leaders in public understanding of the power of the arts, the Artists-in-Residence will present collaborative performances and visual exhibitions alongside the Summit’s numerous guest performers.


New artistic pairings between violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing and pianist Llewelyn Sanchez-Werner, saxophonist Christoph Pepe Auer and cellist Clemens Sainitzer, and guitarist Gyan Riley and singer Magos Harrera will evoke experimentation within CultureSummit’s Artists Incubator programme, which will chart new collaborations among artists across disciplines and regions.


Further imbuing both CultureSummit’s plenaries and social receptions with performance will be the European Union Youth Orchestra; world-premiere work by Emirati oud musicians Faisal Al Saari, Ali Obaid, and Ali Al Mansouri; choreographer Aakash Odedra; and theatre artist Volker Gerling.

Chief Executive of TCP Ventures, Carla Dirlikov Canales said: “As we nurture new work, exchange ideas and above all harness the power of art for social change, there is perhaps no better-suited location for these unexpected collaborations than the crossways of Abu Dhabi and CultureSummit 2018.”


CultureSummit 2018 Abu Dhabi is presented by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) in conjunction with The Rothkopf Group and TCP Ventures.


Additional details may be found at


About Culture Summit Abu Dhabi

CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 2018 is a high-level international summit that will bring together leaders from the worlds of government, arts, media and technology to collaborate and address in concrete ways the role culture can play in addressing the great challenges of our time, from poverty and extremism to climate change and conflict.


CultureSummit Abu Dhabi is presented by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT) in conjunction with The Rothkopf Group, an interactive media and advisory firm specializing in global issues, and TCP Ventures, a global producer of artistic events at the intersection of culture and social impact.


About Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of the Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction that enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The Department manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programs relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. The Department of Culture and Tourism supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key role played by the Department is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.


About The Rothkopf Group

The Rothkopf Group (TRG) is an interactive media and advisory firm specializing in international issues with a unique practice of convening and serving communities of leaders as they plan and prepare for disruptive changes in their industries, regions and globally.


About TCP Ventures

TCP Ventures, LLC (TCPV) is an arts organization specializing in development and management of arts projects and in international arts advisory work. The company draws on its team’s extensive experience as artists, presenters and managers working at the very highest levels in North and South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

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