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Noura Al Kaabi reiterates UAE leadership’s commitment to develop cultural and creative sector

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DUBAI, 7th December, 2021 (WAM) — Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, reiterated the UAE leadership’s commitment to nurture and develop the cultural and creative sector.

''Nothing has preoccupied my mind in the recent past as the present and future of the creative economy, and how we may enable the UAE to boast a vibrant cultural sphere which also contributes substantially to the local and global economy,'' Noura Al Kaabi said, in her keynote address to the 2nd World Conference on Creative Economy (WCCE), held today at Expo 2020 Dubai, under the theme ''Inclusively Creative, Cultivating the Future''.

The opening session was attended by Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Sheikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, President of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno, Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy of the Republic of Indonesia, Angelica Maria, Minister of Culture of Colombia, and high-level personalities.

''We in the UAE are excited and honoured to be hosting the second edition of the World Conference on Creative Economy after Indonesia. Our thoughts on this are not confined to just the UAE but are inclusive of all other nations in our region and beyond. We have always believed that global cooperation is key to realising the true potential of the creative economy," she told a gathering of global community of entrepreneurs, thinkers, thought leaders, creatives and policymakers, who gathered in Dubai for the three-day conference.

Al Kaabi indicated that the UAE launched a 10-year National Strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries which marks a shift in the nation’s efforts and ambitions towards a more sustainable creative ecosystem. This, she noted, comes in line with the WCCE, which in itself is very special as it is held on the sidelines of one of the world’s most important cultural events: Expo 2020 Dubai. This conference also marks the closing event of the International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.

''Like all countries around the world, the UAE’s creative sector has been significantly impacted by COVID-19. In 2020, we paused, we assessed, then we revived and jumped back stronger than ever. We placed the creative economy centerstage within our economic mindset. Much has changed since the first installment of the WCCE took place in Indonesia back in 2018. While the inaugural conference set the tone for building a vibrant creative ecosystem by focusing on social cohesion, regulations, marketing and financing, the UAE iteration will build a more profound discourse on these topics and discuss how to best position and harness the creative economy in a post-pandemic world,'' she added.

''Many countries, including ours, proved resilient enough to minimise the economic and cultural repercussions of the pandemic. The technological innovations that placed us in good stead during these trying months were themselves the results of human creativity. The creative sector redefined the meaning of ‘normal’ and was quick to adapt and create new ways of work and ingenuity. With many countries closing their borders due to the pandemic, traditional industries struggled to keep up with the demands of a globalised economy. In order to keep afloat, they began to rethink their business models and looked inward for sustenance and autonomy,'' she noted.

According to Al Kaabi, the cultural and creative industries, on the other hand, continued to expand their footprint and reach outward, they opened their heart out to the world transcending borders, cultural and language barriers. Art and culture became the lifeline of humanity and gave people hope in the face of despair.

"Concerts, shows, exhibitions, even museums went live with digitised content, for everyone to experience and enjoy. The virtual world became a great leveller and showed us that art was not just for the elite. Technology helped the democratisation of culture and art, on both ends of the spectrum. It not only accelerated the creative process leading to more opportunities for creatives but also enabled its access to larger audiences. The world discovered how digital transformation along with collaborations enhanced global reach and led to a wider cultural footprint. The cultural and creative sector became the sounding board for humanity and gave hope to the world.

''It is this resilience and adaptability that made the cultural and creative industries standout from the crowd and the whole world took notice. The fact that this conference takes place in a world regaining its footing as a result of a pandemic, makes it even more crucial to our narrative regarding the creative economy. We will continue to discuss this resilience over the course of the conference and find out ways to leverage it to make cultural and creative industries a thriving socioeconomic sector globally.

''We will hear from industry experts, thought leaders, ministers, lawmakers and policymakers, about what has changed from the first conference to now and how creatives and talents can harness this opportunity. As we work to build an inclusive and resilient economic framework, we need to ensure the long-term sustainability of the cultural and creative sectors. The linkage between Cultural and Creative Industries and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is clear. A thriving cultural economy is also an unquestionable guarantee for urban recovery and growth."

''Let us come together and present a model that supports the enablement of the creative economy, where we ourselves are creative and collectively work together in service of our shared humanity, building a bright and beautiful future,'' she concluded.

Addressing the conference, Azoulay said creativity has always been the lifeblood of humanity, even in the depths of time. ''Today, creativity continues to permeate society, as we see so clearly at the World Expo, just a few hundred metres away. The event showcases the incredible potential of culture and the creative industries to connect minds and create the future.''

''Moreover, culture and creativity have the power to heal, to weave together societies that have been ripped apart. We see this in UNESCO’s flagship initiative to 'Revive the Spirit of Mosul', to which the United Arab Emirates contributes so much. Culture and creativity also offer answers as we seek to build a more sustainable and peaceful future. We saw this at the Venice Biennale of Architecture, where the UAE Pavilion was awarded the Golden Lion for its innovative and ecological project in response to the fundamental question 'How will we live together?'"

Speaking about the impact of COVID-19 on the culture and creativity sectors, Azoulay said, globally, royalties fell by 10 percent, or over US$1 billion in 2020.

''These times of crisis have also highlighted, more than ever, the essential role of culture in the cohesion of societies, and for each of us as a fundamental dimension of our humanity. Learning from the crisis, we need to seize the long-term opportunities offered by this largely underestimated economic sector, which employs more young people than any other field. That is why culture must be at the heart of recovery plans,'' she stressed.

''UNESCO is committed to placing culture high on the international agenda – as we did through the G20 Culture Ministers’ Meetings, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia last year and Italy last summer. This collective engagement is crucial if we are to tackle the structural challenges affecting culture and creativity.''

The UNESCO chief addressed three of the challenges facing the sector: protecting the creators, digitsalisation and data.

She explained that UNESCO relaunched in July the Aschberg Programme, created 65 years ago to improve the social and economic protection of creators. Through this programme, we will study the impact of public policies on artists, and accompany governments and cultural actors as they work to create effective regulations in this field.

The digitalisation of culture creates many opportunities – as shown by the success of the Theatre of Digital Art in Dubai and around the world. Digital platforms now play a decisive role in providing access to creative works,'' she said.

With regards to data, she added that in a sector whose contours are so complicated to establish, reliable and precise data are essential, better information means a better understanding of needs – which leads to better action.

''This is why we are conducting a global study with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism to assess the impact of the pandemic on culture. It will be released in March next year. Secondly, looking beyond the crisis, data is essential to understand structural challenges facing the cultural sector. For this reason, in March, we released the report 'Gender & Creativity: Progress on the Precipice'. It highlighted the urgent need for accurate global data to fight key issues such as the gender pay gap, or the lack of women in executive positions. Lastly, data can help cultural industries realise their full potential,'' she concluded.

The first World Conference on Creative Economy (WCCE) hosted in Indonesia in 2018, offered a forum for policymakers and industry players to exchange ideas, resolve challenges and identify opportunities within the creative economy. This year, the UAE hosts the second WCCE 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai, featuring the world’s thought-leaders, aspiring creatives and innovators.

Over the course of three days, a large global community of entrepreneurs, creatives and policymakers will come together in person and virtually, where they will be joined by world-leading speakers, thinkers and policymakers. This is the place to collaboratively and practically engage with the future of the creative economy, helping to build it on inclusive, responsible, and human-first foundations.

WCCE 2021 will see the key players and game changers from around the world come together in the UAE on a dynamic platform to engage with one another and take concrete steps towards a more sustainable creative economy. As the pace of innovation and technological disruption continues to accelerate, WCCE 2021 will serve as a unique forum and an ideal opportunity to share knowledge, analyse trends and debate ideas.

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Emirates

UAE private sector pledges to accelerate gender balance in leadership

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DUBAI,18th January, 2022 (WAM) — In a first of its kind initiative for the UAE private sector, 18 leading local and multinational companies from diverse sectors have signed a pledge to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 5 (achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls).

This pledge by the private sector aims to increase gender balance in the workplace, with an emphasis on increasing the representation of women in leadership positions to 30% by 2025 through policy, programme, and initiative developments that are aligned with UAE government direction.

The pledge was signed during a ceremony hosted by the UAE Gender Balance Council, the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs and the UAE’s Private Sector Advisory Council on SDGs. The ceremony was attended by Mona Ghanim Al-Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council; Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and Vice President of UAE National Committee on SDGs; Shamsa Saleh, Secretary-General of the UAE Gender Balance Council; Hanan Ahli, Acting Director of the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre; as well as representatives of member companies of the Private Sector Advisory Council and representatives of international organisations working on the SDGs.

Companies that signed the pledge include Majid Al Futtaim Holding LLC, Masdar, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), Dubai Holding, Unilever, Standard Chartered Bank, MasterCard, Michelin, UPS, General Motors, Schneider Electric, PepsiCo, Mondelez International, BASF, Mars, Nestle, and General Mills.

Each of the signatories committed to taking key actions before 2025 to strengthen gender balance in leadership positions, including by: ensuring equal pay and fair compensation; promoting gender equitable recruitment and promotion; mainstreaming gender balance through policies and programmes; and being transparent about progress with fellow signatories and government.

H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment, and wife of H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, commended this voluntary initiative, which reflects the unique partnership between the government and private sector in the UAE to achieve the national goals and a future vision by the wise leadership that will enable the country to be a leading global economy in the next fifty years. She stressed on the pivotal role of the private sector in supporting the government’s efforts to enhance the UAE’s global competitiveness.

She affirmed that gender balance is a key priority for the government, and that the private sector is an indispensable partner in achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 5 (Gender Equality). She stressed that the pledge will be an inspiration for the region and the world.

Sheikha Manal said: "The UAE is highly committed to the Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 and has integrated them into its strategic plans, and prioritized them in its local and international partnerships. A national committee for these goals was established in 2017, comprising several ministries and federal agencies, which share the responsibility of implementing these goals at the national level. The UAE Gender Balance Council also launched a host of local and global initiatives to accelerate the implementation of SDG 5 (Gender Equality), in cooperation with government entities and international organisations. These efforts have resulted in remarkable progress for the UAE in global competitiveness reports on women and gender balance, leading the region in some of the most important indexes and climbing to eighteenth place globally in gender equality in a report issued by the United Nations Development Programme. We have witnessed other notable successes, which include ranking first in Middle East and North Africa in the ‘Women, Business and the Law’ 2021 report issued by the World Bank, and first in the Arab world in the Global Gender Gap Report 2021, issued by the World Economic Forum, as well as successfully ranking first globally in 9 competitive indicators related to the progress in achieving the fifth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2021."

She added: "I would like to thank our partners in this initiative that supports the UAE's commitment and continuous pursuit to achieve the sustainable development goals. Eliminating obstacles to gender equality is essential to achieving economic prosperity, social stability and sustainable growth. The UAE, since its establishment, has invested in the capabilities of all members of its society without prejudice or discrimination, and this direction is being reinforced by our wise leadership with pioneering legislation and policies that consolidate the rights of women, ensure equal opportunities and leadership positions in the labor market and enhance their representation in decision-making areas. We are confident that the private sector will keep pace with the achievements made in government in this field, and this initiative constitutes an inspiring model for all private institutions in the country."

Mona Al Marri, Vice President of the UAE Gender Balance Council and Chairperson of the Global Council on SDG 5, said: "The signing of this pledge is a defining moment that deserves to be commended, as it enhances government efforts and confirms the important role that the private sector has in achieving the UAE’s vision and goals."

She added: "The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need to work together to come up with innovative solutions to some complex challenges facing our world. It has also demonstrated the extent to which women are affected by crises, noting that there are real gender gaps in leadership positions across the world, with women occupying only 22% of CEO-level leadership positions. We need to escalate efforts to increase the number of women in senior and middle management roles, as more women in leadership means stronger organisational performance and thriving economies."

She expressed her gratitude to the companies that signed the pledge and their cooperation with the government, adding that it represents a great opportunity for the rest of the private sector to join this important initiative, stressing the readiness of the UAE Gender Balance Council to provide support to the private sector to progress in this field.

Abdulla Lootah, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, and Vice President of UAE National Committee on SDGs, stressed the important role of the private sector in supporting national efforts to achieve sustainable development goals, as well as promoting national initiatives and projects aimed at consolidating gender balance across various fields.

He said: "The pledge, signed by 18 national and international pioneering companies, constitutes an important step in the UAE’s path to empowering women. Progress in gender equality started with Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and the wise leadership continues to build on it because of women’s pivotal role in the advancement of countries and societies."

He added: "This initiative reflects the strategic vision of the UAE Gender Balance Council and H.H. Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Completing the sustainable development goals is a joint responsibility between the public and private sectors, and success in this field requires joint efforts to launch initiatives that empower women working in the private sector."

The pledge is the result of the tireless efforts of the UAE’s Private Sector Advisory Council on SDGs, in collaboration with the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs as represented by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Center (FCSC) and the UAE Gender Balance Council, after a focus group discussion on SDG 5 was organised in 2019.

The result of this discussion was the Private Sector Pledge to Accelerate Gender Balance, an effort which will promote a culture that encourages all employees to realise their full potential, in line with SDG 5 (Gender Equality). Specifically, the pledge will drive the implementation of Target 5.5, which emphasizes the global importance of ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic, and public life.

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Emirates

Qatari FM condemns Houthi attacks on UAE in phone call with Abdullah bin Zayed

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ABU DHABI, 18th January, 2022 (WAM) — H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, received a phone call from Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Qatar who affirmed his strong condemnation and denunciation of the terrorist attack by the terrorist Houthi militia on civil facilities in the UAE.

He pointed out that such terrorist acts contravene all international norms and laws, expressing his sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this terrorist attack, his wishes for a speedy recovery to the injured, and for continued security and stability to the UAE.

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Emirates

Maldives FM condemns terrorist Houthi attack on civil facilities in UAE in phone call with Abdullah bin Zayed

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ABU DHABI, 18th January, 2022 (WAM)– H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, received today a phone call from Abdulla Shahid, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives.

During the phone call, Shahid expressed strong condemnation and denunciation of the terrorist attack by the terrorist Houthi militia on civil facilities in the UAE. He also affirmed the Maldives' full solidarity with and support for the UAE in the face of this cowardly attack.

He offered condolences over the victims of this terrorist act and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

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