Alserkal and Expo 2020 join forces to create a new programme - Cultures in Conversation

8 September 2021

A platform for amplifying perspectives and research


The calendar for Cultures in Conversation, a series of multi-disciplinary events, cross-cultural conversations, and artistic interventions has been revealed. Commissioned by Expo 2020 and programmed by Alserkal, the initiative is part of Build Bridges, one of the five tracks under Expo’s Programme for People and Planet. Anchored by 10 Theme Weeks, this extraordinary programme of events, experiences, thought-leadership and public conversations aims to find solutions to some of the most pressing challenges facing the global community today.

As Expo 2020 Dubai prepares to open its doors to the world on 1 October 2021, Alserkal reaffirms its commitment to fostering creativity and developing cultural content to create research-led programming. The inaugural Cultures in Conversation session will take place on 9 October 2021 as part of Climate and Biodiversity Week. The programme will take place on the Saturday of each Theme Week, throughout Expo 2020 with the final session being held on 26 March 2022. The free events will require registration and will be open to ticket-holding members of the public. Expo tickets are available for purchase via the Expo 2020 website.

Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Founder of Alserkal, said: “At Alserkal we share Expo 2020’s commitment to sustainable innovation and providing a platform for global exchange. Expo 2020 Dubai is a historic moment uniting the world and drawing attention to today’s challenges while imagining ambitious solutions. Alserkal is proud to help shape thinking around these urgent issues."

Nadia Verjee, Chief of Staff, Programme for People and Planet, Expo 2020 Dubai, added: “An integral part of the Programme for People and Planet focuses on the power of cultural exchange. We believe that intercultural dialogue is key to breaking down boundaries between people, creating better informed individuals who see connections between people and cultures of the world, rather than divisions. As one of the most forward-thinking and established home-grown cultural initiatives in Dubai, Alserkal is perfectly placed to help us achieve this, and we can’t wait for visitors to take part in the Cultures in Conversation series.”

Comprising UAE-based poets, artist collectives, and academics as well as international urban theorists, artists, and diplomats, Cultures in Conversation challenges the conventional talk format and instead debates pertinent topics through immersive experiences, artist interventions, informal conversations, and performances in order to address meaningful matters at the heart of cultural conversations today. Some of the participants in the programme include: Charles Landry, an urban sociologist and an international authority on the role of creativity in urban and institutional change; Ambassador Lumumba Di-Aping, Climate Change Expert and Former Chief Negotiator for Developing Countries and Chair of the Rights of Future Generations Working Group; His Excellency Omar Ghobash, Author, the Assistant Minister for Public and Cultural Diplomacy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in the UAE, and former UAE Ambassador to France and Russia; Nujoom Alghanem, Emirati poet, artist and film director; Sima Dance Company; a Syrian contemporary dance company based in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai; and the Engage 101 collective, an art collecting and research platform that aims to address gaps in the Gulf’s art ecosystem through sales featuring non-gallery represented artists and public programmes.

Made for and belonging to the global community, the Programme for People and Planet at Expo 2020 addresses the world’s most critical issues and opportunities, aiming to inspire collective and meaningful action. Through five tracks – Build Bridges, Leave No One Behind, Live in Balance, Thrive Together and UAE Vision 2071 – this programme will explore humanity’s most pressing challenges through cultural, social, environmental, and economic lenses.

Build Bridges strives to break down cultural boundaries, harnessing the power of storytelling, art, and music to foster intercultural dialogue and knowledge exchange.

Cultures in Conversation is Alserkal Advisory’s first project with Expo 2020 Dubai. Alserkal Advisory is an independent, multi-disciplinary practice of thinkers, researchers, and specialists covering diverse fields and multiple geographies. A trusted contributor to and shaper of the local cultural ecosystem, Alserkal Advisory has over a decade of lived experience in heritage creation and cultural production—from creating context-specific public programming to establishing sustainable cultural destinations. Unconventional strategies enable the Advisory team to deliver memorable outcomes while remaining sensitive to client imperatives and regional demands.

Vilma Jurkute, Executive Director of Alserkal comments: “At the heart of Alserkal and Alserkal Advisory we challenge conventional business practices and craft audience-specific public programmes that resonate with our communities while assessing our impact on society, the environment, and local economies. Through partnering with Expo 2020 to conceptualise Cultures in Conversation we have thoughtfully brought some of the world’s leading thinkers from multiple disciplines together to address and reimagine critical contemporary issues in a world of Anthropocene. Cultures in Conversation allows for a meta-narrative that offers reflection, awareness, and re-envisioned approaches, as a result engendering new forms of knowledge, activating social discourse, and shaping borderless communities on a collaborative Expo stage.”

Visitors to Expo will be able to book their place at one of the Cultures in Conversation sessions via the Expo 2020 website from 15 September.

Visit or the Expo 2020 Website for further information.


About Alserkal

Alserkal is a socially responsible and forward-thinking cultural enterprise dedicated to developing sustainable models for homegrown initiatives. Founded in 2007 by Emirati businessman and patron Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Alserkal is renowned for its ground-breaking artistic productions, experimental approach and for the creation of culturally meaningful spaces that inspire and shape communities. Alserkal has three primary areas of activity: cultivating a creative economy in Dubai and building a collaborative network of civic cultural institutions through its renowned cultural district, Alserkal Avenue; providing advisory services to public and private sector entities; and, supporting public artist commissions, residencies, research grants and educational programmes through its non-profit, Alserkal Arts Foundation.

Alserkal has transformed the cultural landscape of Dubai and the UAE through the creation of a thriving, region-specific community of over 70 contemporary art galleries, visual and performing arts organisations, designers and entrepreneur-led businesses at Alserkal Avenue, providing an essential platform for the development of creative industries in the region.

Alserkal utilises its collective expertise in arts initiatives and cultural production, heritage creation, community building and engagement, as well as urbanism and planning for creative industries, to guide public and private sector entities in developing sustainable and responsive business models.

About Expo 2020

From 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Expo 2020 Dubai will welcome visitors from every corner of the globe to join the making of a new world, as it brings together the planet in one place to reimagine tomorrow.

  • With the purpose of ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’, Expo 2020 will be the world’s most impactful global incubator for new ideas, catalysing an exchange of new perspectives and inspiring action to deliver real-life solutions to real-world challenges
  • Expo 2020 will be the biggest cultural gathering in the world, presenting a visually striking and emotionally inspiring 182 days, as more than 200 participants – including nations, multilateral organisations, businesses, and educational institutions, as well as millions of visitors – create the largest and most diverse World Expo ever
  • Expo 2020’s subthemes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability will inspire visitors to preserve and protect our planet, explore new frontiers and build a better future for everyone
  • For six months, Expo 2020 will be a must-visit family destination, with thousands of events, amazing exploratory experiences, and free entry for children up to age 18
  • Expo is committed to building a more equitable and just world for everyone, while keeping visitors safe by following the latest guidance of the world’s leading medical, science and health experts
  • Expo 2020 is the first World Expo to take place in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, located on a 4.38 sqkm site adjacent to Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai South
  • Built with a meaningful and measurable long-term legacy in mind, the Expo site will transform into District 2020 – a model global community that will rethink the cities of the future – after Expo 2020 closes its doors