Dubai Opera head to receive WEF award - GulfToday

Dubai Opera head to receive WEF award


Paolo Petrocelli.

Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter

Advocate of cultural diplomacy between Middle East and Europe, passionate and dynamic leader with extensive experience in leadership positions, Paolo Petrocelli, Head of Dubai Opera, has been named Young Global Leader by World Economic Forum (WEF).

He will receive his accolade during the upcoming WEF session to be held in October in Dubai.

This year the list of Young Global Leaders includes Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed and Sheikha Shamma Bint Sultan from the UAE.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf Today at the opulent Dubai Opera, Petrocelli shared his vision of broadening the cultural network in the Middle East and his innovative ideas to bring local art, artist and cultural activities on a much wider scale.

This year, the WEF has revealed the newest inductions of Young Global Leaders, a class of the most influential under-40 personalities in the world, who through their civil and professional commitment, have managed to establish themselves for their ability to generate a positive impact on an international level in various fields.


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Rising leaders from the cultural and arts sectors  are usually very little recognised and celebrated in such kind of programmes, despite the fact that the creative industries global market value accounts for around $3.4 trillion annually, and according to the United Nations, accounts for more than 50 million jobs worldwide. As such, Unesco identifies the importance of advancing this sector as part of the essential steps in advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

But this year, among the most influential young personalities at the global level, World Economic Forum decided to include the Italian cultural manager, Paolo Petrocelli.

Recently appointed as Head of the Dubai Opera in the United Arab Emirates, Petrocelli has quickly established himself on the European and international scene as one of the leading cultural managers of his generation.

Being an international relations and global cultural affairs expert, who has also helped further develop the Opera scene in the Middle East and North Africa over the last few years, Paolo has an extensive history of collaborating with some of the most prestigious international organisations, music institutions, and world-renowned artists like the United Nations, European Commission, Rome Opera House and Coldplay.

He first visited Dubai 10 years ago and since then has visited the emirate every year to take care of some specific projects. “The development of the cultural eco system in the country was a source of inspiration for me to bring a cultural bridge between present and future and am amazed by the development and achievements in a very short time,” he said.

A passionate and dynamic manager with extensive experience in leadership positions around the world, Paolo is the Founder and President of the Euro-Mediterranean Music Academy for Peace, the Founder and Honorary President of the Italian Youth Association for Unesco and the Cultural Diplomacy Officer for the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates.

“This nomination is much more than a personal achievement. It stands as a recognition of the impact that culture and the arts have in connecting and engaging individuals and communities around the world,” Petrocelli said.

In recent years, international organisations, governments, and civil societies are increasingly promoting a strategic approach to international cultural relations and investing in shared actions and programmes. When asked about the impact of the cultural sector around the world, Paolo explained: “As a cultural manager and global active citizen, I believe that culture, arts, and education are a major force for growth, development, and change – globally. This promotes respect for diversity, increases mutual understanding between nations, and strengthens intercultural dialogue which creates sustainable development and peace.”

Paolo Petrocelli now joins an illustrious group which currently has over 1,400 members and an alumni of 120 nationalities, including heads of government and famed personalities such as the French President Emmanuel Macron, the Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern, former Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Renzi, founder of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Google Larry Page, entrepreneur Jack Ma, and barrister Amal Clooney.

The UAE continues its streak of adding to the Young Global Leaders programme, as past notable figures include Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, and many other prominent UAE-based professionals.

Recognising that the cultural sector is at the heart of a creative economy and of vital importance for continued development, the UAE has become an internationally recognised cultural haven which fosters some of the world’s youngest and most renowned personalities that make a positive impact in the world through their skills and efforts.

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