What is CultureSummit?

CultureSummit is the world’s first high-level summit that convenes leaders from the worlds of the arts, media, public policy, and technology to identify ways that culture can raise awareness, build bridges and promote positive change. Last year’s inaugural event was attended by 450 delegates from 80 countries, including internationally acclaimed visual artist Idris Khan, Academy Award-winning composer and conductor Tan Dun, Macarthur Award-winning choreographer Liz Lerman, former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, His Excellency Dr. Anwar Mohammed Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and His Excellency Dr. Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, UAE Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

CultureSummit 2017 hosted representatives from the following esteemed organisations:
  • Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Centre
  • Arab Fund for Arts and Culture
  • Bahrain Authority on Culture and Antiquities
  • China National Symphony Orchestra
  • Culture Connect
  • El Sistema
  • Ford Foundation
  • Found Sound Nation
  • International Music Council
  • John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts
  • New York University Abu Dhabi Arts Center
  • Sesame Workshop
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
  • Tate/Art Basel
  • Vienna Boys Choir
  • Weill Center for Music, Carnegie Hall
  • West-Eastern Divan Orchestra

    This year’s programme, titled Unexpected Collaborations: Forging New Connections Between Heritage and Innovation, Near and Far, Creativity and Purpose, will focus on partnerships that are unique, different, and which blend tradition and innovation. Workshops, presentations, and performances throughout the event will engage participants in expanding on their ideas about the role of culture in improving our world. A special portion of the programme will take place at the newly opened Louvre Abu Dhabi, with events and tours scheduled exclusively for participants of CultureSummit 2018.

    The below tentative agenda is subject to change, with titles of proposed sessions.

    Opening & Day 1 Theme: Unexpected Collaborations


    17:30 – 21:30

    The Ritz–Carlton, Abu Dhabi

    Reception and Welcome Dinner
    Opening Performance


    9:00 – 13:00

    Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island

    Morning Modules


    • Redefining Creativity in a Connected World
    • Borderless Collaboration: Globalising Creativity
    • The Creativity Premium: Policies that Promote Creativity
    • Can Creativity be Taught?
    • Success Stories: Case Studies in Unexpected Collaborations
    • Applying the World’s Most Creative Minds to its Most Challenging Problems
    • Each session will be 40 minutes, with high-profile moderators animating the sessions.


    14:00 – 16:00

    Workshop and Incubator Meetings


    • Arts Education in Under-Privileged and At-Risk Communities
    • Arts Education and Cultural Preservation
    • Using the Arts to Combat Extremism
    • Next Generation Arts Policy Challenges
    • Next Generation Challenges in Funding and Philanthropy

    Day 2 Theme: Art, Tech, New Media and Culture Redefined

    9:00 – 13:00

    Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island
    Morning Plenary Sessions


    • The Big Disruptions: Visionaries Make their Predictions
    • New Frontiers in Interactivity
    • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Arts: When the Artist is a Machine
    • Next Generation Culture Policy Challenges
    • The New New Media: What We Have Yet to See
    • Arts and Culture on Demand: The Changing Models

    14:00 – 16:00

    Afternoon Workshop and Incubator Meetings

    The second day sessions will zero-in on ideas presented the first day, narrowing them down to 1-5 that each group would like to focus on as its active project through 2018.

    • Arts Education in Under-Privileged and At Risk Communities
    • Arts Education and Cultural Preservation
    • Using the Arts to Combat Extremism
    • Next Generation Arts Policy Challenges
    • Next Generation Challenges in Funding and Philanthropy

    16:00 – 18:00

    Optional Local Workshop Programming for MENA Attendees

    Day 3 Theme: Setting Goals and an Agenda for the Year Ahead

    9:00 – 13:00

    Louvre Abu Dhabi and Manarat Al Saadiyat
    Morning Plenary Sessions
    These discussions will each focus on one of the topic areas for the Workshops plus the proposed output of new collaborations from the Incubator. As a consequence, final day plenary discussions featuring specific deliverables might include:

    • Arts Education in Under-Privileged and At Risk Communities
    • Arts Education and Cultural Preservation
    • Using the Arts to Combat Extremism
    • Next Generation Arts Policy Challenges
    • Next Generation Challenges in Funding and Philanthropy
    • The CultureSummit Incubator: Collaborations for 2018 and Beyond

    Day 4: Morning Plenary

    9:00 – 14:00

    Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island

    Thursday morning will host wrap-up and forward-looking plenary sessions on CultureSummit deliverables and next steps with conversations among participants, the Steering Committee and artists. The closing luncheon, more relaxed and casual than the previous meals – designed to focus on personal relationships and UAE hospitality – will also feature special performance collaborations from the week’s Artists Incubators.

    CultureSummit is an invitation-only forum convening leaders from the arts, policy, technology and media. Registration for CultureSummit 2018 is US$ 5,000. Fees will be waived for select participants.


    Steering Committee

    HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak

    Chairman, Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

    HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak

    HE Noura Al Kaabi

    UAE Minister of Culture, Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi & twofour54

    HE Noura Al Kaabi

    HE Saif Saeed Ghobash

    Director General, Department of Culture & Tourism - Abu Dhabi

    HE Saif Saeed Ghobash

    David Rothkopf

    CEO of The Rothkopf Group

    David Rothkopf

    Carla Dirlikov Canales

    Classical Singer; CEO, TCP Ventures

    Carla Dirlikov Canales


    Check back for participant developments!

    Sponsored and Hosted By

    Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

    Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

    Committed to conserving, promoting and leveraging the heritage, culture and traditions of the Abu Dhabi emirate, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi is charged with the development of a leading cultural landscape with the aim of supporting the evolution of Abu Dhabi into a world-class, sustainable destination.

    The Rothkopf Group

    The Rothkopf Group

    The Rothkopf Group (TRG) is an interactive media and advisory firm specialising 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.

    TCP Ventures, LLC

    TCP Ventures, LLC

    TCP Ventures was established with the objective of producing and curating events and experiences at the intersection of arts, culture and social impact. Its work is part of a broad spectrum of event, educational, advocacy and other initiatives undertaken by its founders in the U.S. and worldwide.


    Manarat Al Saadiyat opened in 2009 as the first multi-disciplinary creative space on Saadiyat Island, offering the community a creative platform where they could engage with exhibitions, events and immersive creative experiences. Set in the heart of Abu Dhabi’s Cultural District, the venue has been the central location for its annual anchor event, Abu Dhabi Art, which has been held at Manarat Al Saadiyat since its inception. In 2017, the newly renovated Manarat Al Saadiyat launched a new public programme reflecting the growing public interest in the culture of the Emirate. The refurbished space and its diverse programme of activities offer a vibrant and interactive platform for the community to engage with a variety of artistic activities that bring the vision of Saadiyat Island to life. With an ongoing programme of daily workshops, classes, activities and events, Manarat Al Saadiyat now includes an Art Studio specifically designed to engage visitors of all ages in a variety of creative activities, a Photography Studio offering the highest levels of technical expertise, The Garden Pavilion, an outdoor area, providing the perfect space to host a multitude of events, and a 250-seat auditorium and three gallery spaces for temporary exhibitions. The new café and brasserie, Larte, offers a modern interpretation on northern Italian and European classics.

    The venue is open daily from 9am until 8pm.

    To find out more about Manarat Al Saadiyat’s ongoing programming, please visit manaratalsaadiyat.ae or follow Manarat Al Saadiyat on social media at:

    Twitter @ManaratSaadiyat
    Facebook @ManaratAlSaadiyat
    Instagram @ManaratAlSaadiyat

    During April, Abu Dhabi temperatures are typically around 24C (75F) during the day and 13C (56F) at night. Most indoor spaces and hotels are air conditioned.

    Attire for CultureSummit’s daytime programming is “smart casual” and our evening programming is business/business casual. None of our activities require formal wear.

    In general, we recommend dressing slightly on the conservative side, avoiding any very short or very tight attire. Women are not required to cover their heads or hair in most social settings.


    Tipping is not expected, but is commonly practiced. Gratuities to hotel and restaurant staff are at your discretion.

    Many fine dining and high-end restaurants may add a service charge (usually around 10%) and a tourism levy of 6% to your bill. These charges are often included in the menu prices and the menu will denote when they are.

    If you are very happy with the service, it is not expected but quite common to leave a tip on top of the already included (16%) fees & service charges. If these charges are not included, then you may like to add a 10-15% tip to the total bill.

    Currency & Exchange Rate

    Please check out the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi currency converter.

    Standard Electricity

    Abu Dhabi’s electricity supply is 220/240 volts at 50 Hz. Square three-pin sockets are standard. It is advisable to bring a plug adapter with you, though most hotels can supply adapters for other kinds of plug and they can be bought locally.

    For more FAQs, check out the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi website.

    After the daytime program and before dinner, we encourage you to explore Abu Dhabi by visiting some key cultural landmarks.

    Louvre Abu Dhabi

    Designed by renowned architect Jean Nouvel, the newly-opened Louvre Abu Dhabi museum was built to transcend boundaries, preserve heritage, and inspire change. In April 2018, the museum will host exclusive CultureSummit programming for leaders from every corner of the world in one of its highest profile events to date. At the crossroads of the Middle East, perhaps no location is better suited for a summit focused on “Unexpected Collaborations”.

    Learn more about the Louvre Abu Dhabi

    Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

    Guggenheim Abu Dhabi will be co-located on Abu Dhabi’s “Museum Island”, Saadiyat, joining Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat, and other institutions in Abu Dhabi’s cultural hub. Set to be the largest of the global Guggenheim museums, the stunning design by Frank Gehry will showcase international collections that foster a transcultural perspective on the contemporary history of art.

    Learn more about the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi

    Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

    General visiting hours are from  9:00am to 10:00pm Saturdays through Thursdays and from 4:30pm to 10:00pm on Fridays. All visitors must wear long, loose fitting, ankle length trousers or skirts. Women must wear a headscarf.

    Learn more about the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

    The NYU Abu Dhabi campus and Art Gallery

    Located just a few minutes away from Manarat Al Saadiyat in the Saadiyat Marina District.

    Learn more about The NYU Abu Dhabi campus and Art Gallery

    Manarat Al Saadiyat
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    تجمع #القمة_الثقافية_2018: بين #التقاليد و #الابتكار وتعرض هذه الصورة مشهد من عروض الرزفة #في_أبوظبي 2017. للمزيد من المعلومات، زوروا الموقع الإلكتروني
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    تبدأ فعّالية #القمة_الثقافية_2018 #في_أبوظبي بعد شهر! تعرفوا على المزيد من المعلومات، بزيارة الموقع الإلكتروني
    https://t.co/JJRbNSf0Qk #UnexpectedCollaborations https://t.co/YYuw0iMnEm
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    1 week ago
    #CultureSummit2018 brings together artists & policymakers to address global challenges, like with last year's performance by cellist Maya Beiser @CelloGoddess #InAbuDhabi Follow us to learn more and visit: https://t.co/JJRbNSf0Qk #UnexpectedCollaborations https://t.co/dvA5HyeXB1 CultureSummitAD photo

    CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 2018
    CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 20181 day ago
    #CultureSummit2018 blends #tradition + #innovation to create #UnexpectedCollaborations. In 2017, 35 members of the Salem Musabah Al Miqbali Group #InAbuDhabi shared a #Razfa Traditional Performance. Learn more about what is to come April 8-12: www.culturesummitabudhabi.com

    تجمع #القمة_الثقافية_2018 بين #التقاليد و#الابتكار في برنامج #التعاون_غيرالمتوقع.
    في عام 2017، شارك 35 عضواً من فرقة سالم مصبح المقبالي #في_أبوظبي من خلال عرض #الرزفة التقليدي. للمزيد من المعلومات حول الفعّاليات التي ستنعقد من 8 إلى 12 أبريل، زوروا الموقع الإلكتروني: www.culturesummitabudhabi.com.
    CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 2018
    CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 20184 days ago
    One month to go until #CultureSummit2018 #InAbuDhabi. April 8-12. Learn more: www.culturesummitabudhabi.com #UnexpectedCollaborations

    تنطلق فعّالية #القمة_الثقافية_2018 #في_أبوظبي من 8 إلى 12 أبريل. تعرفوا على المزيد بزيارة الموقع الإلكتروني
    www.culturesummitabudhabi.com #UnexpectedCollaborations
    CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 2018
    CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 20181 week ago
    CultureSummit2018 brings together artists and policymakers to address regional and global policy challenges, like this 2017 performance by cellist Maya Beiser #InAbuDhabi. Follow us to learn more and visit: www.culturesummitabudhabi.com

    CultureSummit is an invitation-only forum convening leaders from the arts, policy, technology and media. Additional queries may be sent below.

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