THE BLOG

How Culture Has Put Abu Dhabi Back on the Map With Britons

27/03/2014 17:24 GMT | Updated 27/05/2014 10:59 BST

Creativity is humanity's greatest renewable resource. Unlike any other resource, it grows the more it is used, an exponential value cycle that drives a nation's long-term development.

When someone asks why culture matters, why events such as this month's Abu Dhabi Festival mean much to the UAE and the whole region, that is my answer.

The festival is just one of many events that contribute to the growing popularity of Abu Dhabi as a desirable UK tourist destination. Last year, 80,000 ventured to Abu Dhabi, and there was a 14 per cent rise in the number of Britons staying in emirates hotels.

These figures are set to increase in 2014 due to both the festival and plans for future culture investment, which include the opening of the National Zayed Museum, the Louvre and the Guggenheim.

Cultural diplomacy is a fundamental pillar in today's interconnected world. Events such as the Abu Dhabi Festival allow the UAE to be a forum for this conversation.

Through greater exposure of Emirati artists and talent from around the world, the Abu Dhabi Festival allows the UAE to strengthen civic pride by communicating the strength of the UAE's rich cultural identity - while at the same time, showing its willingness to express and celebrate other cultures.

Channeling the best local and international talent to the forefront of UAE public thought, I sought to create an integrated, grass-roots experience for the communities of the UAE.

By exposing the next generation of Emirati leaders to different forms of cultural expression, our human capital is developed with a greater nourishment of creativity and an all-roundedness that will catalyse commercial growth and help diversify the economy.

But success depends on building a true culture of creativity beyond the core events themselves. Initiatives like those we see this month play a strong role in social inclusion, knowledge empowerment and community development; reaching out to the citizens and residents across the UAE and the Middle East, bringing arts, music and entertainment to everyone, regardless of age, ability or location.

In strengthening an interaction with the rest of the world, this cultural engagement and soft diplomacy breathes life into mutual cultural understanding and helps position the UAE as a thriving metropolis for creativity and excellence in arts.