Culture Summit Abu Dhabi 2024, held under the theme ‘A Matter of Time’ united ministers, cultural leaders, artists and musicians to take urgent action and listen in order to drive positive change across societies


Grammy award-winning singer, producer and songwriter Babyface at the sixth edition of Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, 2024. Courtesy DCT Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, March 05, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) --  The sixth edition of Culture Summit Abu Dhabi with the theme ‘A Matter of Time’ concluded today, gathering over 200 speakers and 1,150 participants from 90 countries. Leaders from the fields of arts, music, public policy, design, heritage, media, museums, and technology, identified the tangible impact of culture as a transformative tool for societies and communities worldwide and highlighted a profound sense of urgency for culture to be put at the heart of global sustainable development.

“Change can happen at any time: the time to act is now,” His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak declared in the closing panel. “What we have accomplished at this Summit is to create a safe ground, a connecting point between East and West. We pledge to make this Summit a place, year on year, where intellectual thought and discussion can flourish, and dialogue can expand. A platform where we can discuss challenges and offer tangible solutions. We look forward to welcoming you back to Abu Dhabi, your second home, next year.”

Discussing the Summit’s vital contribution in bringing together political and cultural leaders, Tim Marlow, Chief Executive and Director, The Design Museum, London, highlighted the value of Club Madrid, the world’s largest forum of democratic former Presidents and Prime Ministers which opened the Summit. “The more we have people in power listening and seeing what the cultural landscapes can do, the more chances we have for building bridges.”

The theme of time was examined through dynamic performances, such as Wayne McGregor’s UniVerse: A Dark Crystal Odyssey at Abu Dhabi’s Cultural Foundation. Wayne McGregor CBE spoke of priming the audience’s imagination to receive the body in space and time, considering the body as an archive that holds experiences and acts as a palimpsest of intelligence.

The third and final day began with an inspirational keynote conversation between Grammy award-winning singer, songwriter and producer Babyface and Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of Recording Academy® which identified the transformative role of music. “Music allows you to time travel,” declared Babyface. “What is happening on Saadiyat Island culturally should be happening around the world to connect people.”

Pressing issues such as new technology and climate emergency dominated conversations. “With technology we have to urgently regulate culture,” warned Ernesto Ottone Ramírez, Assistant Director-General for Culture, UNESCO. “Humans have the right to create, and artificial intelligence cannot take this away from us.” The need to start thinking from the environment's perspective rather than our own was proposed. During a panel exploring climate change as the catalyst for new cultural dialogues, Adriana Sandoval Trujillo from the Embassy of Colombia to the UK remarked: “If we work with museums to bring indigenous knowledge to the forefront, we’ll unlock a synergy that can save our planet.”

Keynotes from iconic creatives and thinkers ranging from the poet Adonis to Prof. Homi Bhabha brought philosophical and thoughtful responses to the theme of time.

“Time claims to be scientific but is actually quite subjective, infused with memory,” reflected Richard Armstrong, Director Emeritus, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation. “I say to museum leaders of the future that art bends time to us so that we not only understand one another but that we see that the past has a very deep connection to what we are doing today. We should have courage to be ourselves, but we must also have courage to be together.”

Justine Simons OBE, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Founder and Chair of World Cities Culture Forum, highlighted that “the good news is that culture has moved from the niche into the mainstream”.

Looking ahead to the next MONDIACULT forum for ministers of culture in Barcelona in 2025, the Summit was an opportunity for stakeholders to declare the urgency of their aspirations for cultural policy, as H.E. Alpidio Alonso, Minister of Culture, Republic of Cuba, said: “Without culture we lose our future.”

For more information on Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, its full programme, and sessions available to watch online, please visit

Culture Summit Abu Dhabi Press Kit, including imagery, is available here.

Anastasia Lander, Pelham Communications

About the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi
The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) drives the sustainable growth of Abu Dhabi’s culture and tourism sectors, fuels economic progress and helps achieve Abu Dhabi’s wider global ambitions. By working in partnership with the organisations that define the emirate’s position as a leading international destination, DCT Abu Dhabi strives to unite the ecosystem around a shared vision of the emirate’s potential, coordinate effort and investment, deliver innovative solutions, and use the best tools, policies, and systems to support the culture, creative and tourism industries.

DCT Abu Dhabi’s vision is defined by the emirate’s people, heritage, and landscape. We work to enhance Abu Dhabi’s status as a place of authenticity, innovation, and unparalleled experiences, represented by its living traditions of hospitality, pioneering initiatives and creative thought.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at