CultureSummit 2018 Abu Dhabi: Cultural Diplomat of the Year Winners Announced

CultureSummit 2018 Abu Dhabi: Cultural Diplomat of the Year Winners Announced

The European Union Youth Orchestra, Prince Claus Fund, conductor Karim Wasfi, and the late artist Hassan Sharif named Cultural Diplomats of the Year

Wednesday, April 11, 2018 — The Steering Committee of CultureSummit 2018 Abu Dhabi has announced the recipients of its Cultural Diplomat of the Year accolades, who are to be honoured at the global forum which is currently taking place in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Steering Committee Member, and Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak said: “Abu Dhabi today pays tribute to pioneering names in the field of cultural diplomacy, for their outstanding contributions to combat challenges facing the international community, and overcome conflicts that result from opposing views and differing opinions, through practical and peaceful resolutions that stem from the essence of cultures themselves.  This year, we honour the late Emirati artist Hassan Sharif, who was amongst the first to introduce conceptual art to the region with a dedication to practice art in his own special way.  A big part of the phenomenal growth that the art scene is witnessing in the region today is down to his inventiveness and originality, and we look forward to other creative Emiratis accomplishing similar achievements.”

Since its inaugural edition in 2017, which established CultureSummit as one of world’s most prestigious convenings of leaders across the worlds of art, policy, technology and media, we have awarded Cultural Diplomat of the Year to honour individuals and organisations leading the field of cultural diplomacy with contributions that address the world’s pressing challenges through the power of culture.”

David Rothkopf, member of the Steering Committee and CEO of The Rothkopf Group, said: “This year’s honourees build on a foundation laid by 2017’s Cultural Diplomats, including former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs HE Dr. Anwar Gargash, and Sesame Workshop. The 2018 winners join these esteemed individuals and organisations in their conviction in the transformative power of culture, and their great efforts to build bridges between cultures in an increasingly fractured world.” 

Each 2018 Cultural Diplomat of the Year winner has both broadened and elevated the practice of using culture to promote international understanding, bridge differences, and enact positive change worldwide. They are:

  • The European Union Youth Orchestra, founded in 1976, bringing together talented young musicians from the 28 countries within the EU. Promoting intercultural dialogue, mutual respect and understanding through music, the orchestra has performed in major cities and festivals around the world, using traditional and innovative formats and techniques to reach and impact a wide range of audiences. The award was accepted by Marshall Marcus, President, European Union Youth Orchestra.
  • Prince Claus Fund, the Dutch organisation founded on the belief that culture is a basic human need. The Prince Claus Fund cultivates international collaborations to support diversity of cultural expression. Its annual awards have raised awareness on the importance of culture in both everyday life and for international development. The Award was accepted by Joumana El Zein Khoury, Director of the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development.
  • Karim Wasfi, founder and president of Peace Through Arts Global Foundation and conductor of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. The renowned cellist, best known for playing classical music in Baghdad’s bomb craters, has utilised the soft power of music and cultural arts to promote peace and counter violent extremism in the Middle East and around world.
  • Hassan Sharif (posthumous), the late Emirati artist whose work pioneered conceptual art and experimental practice, often cited as the father of contemporary art in the UAE. His multimedia work has been acquired by major museums such as the Guggenheim, Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou and also the Sharjah Art Foundation. The award was accepted by his brother, Abdul Raheem Sharif.

Running until 12th April, CultureSummit 2018 Abu Dhabi gathers more than 400 leaders from 80 countries to discuss the ways that culture can address the world’s most pressing challenges and be a force for positive change, under the theme of “Unexpected Collaborations: Forging New Connections Between Heritage and Innovation, Near and Far, Creativity and Purpose”. The summit is an invitation-only event, but will be live-streamed for the public exclusively on the CultureSummit website and the Abu Dhabi Culture mobile app.

Additional details may be found at

For further information about CultureSummit Abu Dhabi, please contact:

Michael Clyne

Brunswick Arts
Danielle DeMartini, +971 56 503 4852
Muhanad Ali, +971 50 107 4820