Marc-Olivier Wahler. Courtesy Art Basel.

Art Basel Plans to Launch Three-Day Summit in Abu Dhabi Next Year

Art Basel has announced that it is launching a new initiative that will bring together around three hundred thought leaders, entrepreneurs, and creatives from various industries, including technology, science, and finance, for a three-day summit in Abu Dhabi that will address global issues. Dubbed Art Basel Inside, the event will be led by curator and art historian Marc-Olivier Wahler and will take place from February 14 to February 16, 2020.

“Moving away from more traditional settings, I am very much looking forward to creating an immersive environment, a unique ecosystem in which critical issues such as sustainability and artificial intelligence are not approached as isolated topics, but instead as contingencies within a larger network,” said Wahler, who was recently appointed as director of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva.

According to its website, Art Basel Inside will attempt to extend the reach of the art fair’s parent company, the MCH Group, beyond the art world. The inaugural event will focus on the many forms of intelligence that exist, including human and machine intelligence, and will strive to harness the “amplifying power of art for positive impact.” Hosted in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism and developed by Art Basel’s department of business initiatives and partnerships, the experience will cost participants $15,000—the fee includes meals and accommodations. 

Commenting on the upcoming partnership, Saif Saeed Ghobash, the undersecretary of the department of culture and tourism in Abu Dhabi, said: “This is a collaboration brought about by a shared passion for the arts, and a belief in their importance in driving understanding, progress, and innovation. Abu Dhabi invests meaningfully in culture with a long-term strategy in place. . . . We look forward to welcoming the participants of Art Basel Inside to our emirate and to enabling this powerful collective to network in a forum that believes in the importance of culture in inspiring innovative thinking.”

Over the last decade, Abu Dhabi has been committed to becoming a major international cultural destination. Among the institutions that have opened in recent years are the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Warehouse421, and the NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery. Other projects that are currently underway include the construction of the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. However, during the race to open these museums, the emirate has also faced backlash over the treatment of its migrant workforce, and many labor activist groups have held talks with institutions such the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation over improving working conditions.