The UAE hosts conferences and summits related to culture and the creative industries, to engage policymakers in discussions about best practice and the required measures to protect and grow the sector, provide thinkers with a platform to engage in exchange of ideas related to culture, allow professionals and talent to showcase their creations and aspirations, and most importantly, encourage dialogue between all those operating in the cultural sector of the UAE and internationally. Some of the major conferences and summits held in the UAE include:
* World Government Summit: The annual Summit is a global platform dedicated to shaping the future of governments worldwide. Each year, the Summit sets the agenda for the next generation of governments, focusing on how they can harness innovation and technology to solve universal challenges facing humanity. The Summit is a neutral, non-profit organization at the intersection of government and innovation. It functions as a knowledge exchange platform for leaders in the public and private sectors to convene and collaborate with world-renowned experts to create a positive impact for citizens worldwide. The sessions of the Summit typically include sessions on culture and the future of culture.
* International Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas: The conference was held in Abu Dhabi in December 2016, and was organized by France and the UAE (by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi), in partnership with UNESCO. The conference was structured into panel discussions and presentations, giving first-hand accounts from international cultural experts on the successes and challenges in overcoming difficult situations faced in the protection and conservation of cultural heritage in conflict zones. The Conference saw the adoption of the Abu Dhabi Declaration in support of UNESCO's global mandate to protect cultural heritage during armed conflicts. The mandate defines practical and sustainable means to safeguard cultural resources, as well as create a network of safe havens for threatened heritage. Most importantly, the Conference included the announcement and establishment of the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas (ALIPH) Fund.
* World Urban Forum 2020: The Forum was convened by UN-Habitat and was established in 2001 to address the pressures of rapid urbanisation and its impact on climate change, communities, cities, economics and policies. The forum is a high-level platform open to everyone with an interest in sustainable urbanisation. Held every two years, the World Urban Forum took place for the first time in an Arab country in Abu Dhabi in February 2020. The 10th edition of the Forum addressed the theme 'Cities of opportunity: Connecting Culture and Innovation'. UN Habitat worked in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Municipalities and Transport, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and General Secretariat of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi to deliver the event. WUF10 concluded with the 'Abu Dhabi Declared Actions', which included commitments from international organisations, national, local and regional governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and others for the next two years and beyond to support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
* The Future of Culture Retreat: Organized by the Ministry of Culture and Youth in 2018, to take stock of the achievements of the cultural sector in the UAE and set an ambitious future direction for culture in the UAE. The retreat brought together a number of cabinet ministers and senior government officials, in addition to some of the most prominent politicians, diplomats, cultural leaders, business leaders and media figures to work on the implementation of a comprehensive developmental plan for innovative cultural initiatives and projects. Through nine different sessions, leaders brainstormed a wide range of visions, suggestions, initiatives and ideas related to the future of Emirati culture. More than 17 recommendations and outcomes were derived from the nine panel sessions in the following areas: arts, cultural diplomacy, funding, national values, Arabic language, science and technology, cultural talent, cultural infrastructure, and cultural innovation and creativity.
* Culture Summit Abu Dhabi: The Summit is organized by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi and is a forum that convenes leaders from the arts, museums, heritage, media, public policy and technology to identify ways in which culture can promote positive change in our global society. 2019's theme was 'Cultural Responsibility and New Technology', and the four-day agenda was packed with panel discussions, workshops, performances and interventions, driven by decision-makers and creatives from the arts, government, policy, technology and media. The summit sought policy recommendations and ideas on cultural responsibility and society in the 21st century and showcased creative solutions and new strategies on topics such as cultural diversity, heritage protection, artistic freedom, public art and digital activation.
* Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival: Organized by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa), the festival is the fastest-growing entrepreneurship event in the UAE celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship and brings together enterprising individuals and institutions in an environment that has attendees inspired, informed, and immersed in all that the entrepreneurial ecosystem has to offer. For entrepreneurs who are getting started and want to be noticed, they are encouraged to participate in Startup Town. Startups get a personal exhibition space and access to programs that help them find partners, investors, and mentors at the festival. Also, for startups, a 100,000 Competition is held. The Festival provides several full days of talks, workshops, and activities packed with the best of Sharjah's food truck and independent music scene. Participants hear first-hand how the current leaders in entrepreneurship made it big, what keeps them going and how their experiences can be emulated. Practical workshops with key educational partners are provided.
* Dubai Design Week: Held under the dedicated patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (DCAA), Dubai Design Week is the region's largest creative festival, reflecting Dubai's position as the design capital of the Middle East. Staged in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3), Dubai Design Week, is a platform for regional design as well as a catalyst for the growth of the creative community in Dubai. The festival's varied program consists of design-related events, exhibitions, installations, competitions, talks and workshops across multiple creative disciplines. Key components of Dubai Design Week include the region's leading fair for high-quality, original design, Downtown Design; Global Grad Show, a year-round program for graduate students across the world, working on social impact innovation; Abwab, the annually remodelled, interactive platform for creative talent from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia; alongside an extensive, hybrid talks and workshop program.
* World Tolerance Summit: A major conference aimed at spreading the message of tolerance and harmony across the globe, and aimed at delivering an international platform for key decision-makers from the UAE and overseas to help shape policy on crucial issues facing the planet. Gender equality, sustainability, community cohesion and strategies on youth and disability are on the agenda. The event is a leading platform for government leaders, peace experts and academics to meet and discuss ways of promoting tolerance in multiculturalism, and how to tackle the challenges it faces and instil a culture of dialogue to support international efforts for world peace and stability. A variety of workshops, sessions and exhibitions are held during the high-profile gathering.
* Sharjah Theatre Research Forum: The Forum is organized by the Department of Culture in Sharjah and discusses modern theatre in the Arab world and the development of theatrical theories and research. The Forum hosts a group of graduates majoring in theatre studies and gives them the opportunity to submit their summaries of their theses, both at the level of master's degree and doctorate. The Department supports the publication of research submitted to the Forum and provides copies of those publications to the Arab Theatre Library.
* Sharjah Arab Poetry Forum: The forum is organized by the Department of Culture in Sharjah and invites poets from the UAE and Arab countries to several poetry nights and critique sessions. Embracing poets, poetry critics and those who are interested in it, the Forum also contributes to maintaining the traditions of Arabic poetry, and the heritage of the Arabic poetic. The Forum also allocates awards to distinguished Arab poets.
Some of the conferences in the UAE have led to major international initiatives, such as the launch of the ALIPH Fund in the International Conference for the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas in 2016, which is USD 100 million Fund.
Some conferences in the UAE have reshaped cultural policy in the country, such as the Future of Culture Retreat, which has led to the restructuring of the Ministry of Culture and Youth to include a new mandate on data, research, policy, and nurturing the cultural and creative industries.
Some cultural conferences have led to new ideas and initiatives, such as the Abu Dhabi Culture Summit which led to the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi to launch an initiative to research and prototype Virtual Reality technology in reimagining opportunities to see, experience and learn about museums' collections. This outcome is predicated on the meteoric rise of digital technology, an evolving definition of culture and shifting expectations from new audiences.
Participation data provides an indication to the level of success of any conference, and below are some statistics:
* Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival: Over 2 years: 5,000 visitors and 140 speakers attended.
* Dubai Design Week: over 200 programs and 90,000 visitors in 2019.
* World Tolerance Conference: 105 different countries, 45 speakers, and over 1,800 attendees participated in 2018.
* World Urban Forum: Over 450 speakers from 168 countries, and over 130,000 attendees.
* World Government Summit: Approximately 4,000 attendees.
Due to the importance of knowledge exchange and sharing of ideas, the UAE will continue to host high level conferences with positive cultural policy impact for the UAE and elsewhere. The UAE has won the bid to host the Meeting of Arab Ministers of Culture in 2021 and plans to hold an international Arabic Language Summit in 2021 to launch a report on the global status of the Arabic Language; amongst other cultural conferences.