• The Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi, a body of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI) and the Embassy of Italy to the UAE, will hold a series of webinars on topical cultural matters
  • The webinars - to take place from September through December - will discuss the limits of technology in various cultural experiences in the time of pandemic
  • The webinars aim to strongly reaffirm that human existence can hardly be separated from physical presence with the experience of socialization
  • The Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi is responsible for spreading and promoting the Italian language, culture and arts in the UAE’s richly diverse nation.

Abu Dhabi – The Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi is set to host a series of webinars focusing on the full meaning of civilization, and provocatively opposing technology to it. There are fields of mankind’s cultural experience that technology can only partly impact and will never be able to overcome.

The webinars will feature a lineup of Italian, Emirati and GCC area intellectual, experts and artists. The cycle of webinars will be officially opened by an introductory greeting jointly with H.E. the Italian Ambassador, Nicola Lener, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE and by H.E. the Honorable Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh.
The webinars will be moderated by Dr Ida Zilio - Grandi, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi, Embassy of Italy to the United Arab Emirates.

The title of the first webinar - set to take place on September 15 at 6:15PM - is “From covidiots to quaranteam: linguistic changes in the time of pandemic and will feature as guest speakers Massimo Leone, Professor of Semiotics at the University of Turin; Dr Mohamed Safi Al Mosteghanemi, Secretary General of the Sharjah's Arabic Language Academy; Mustafa Ismail - aka FREEK - a Somalian trap artist in the UAE.

From covidiots to quaranteam: linguistic changes in the time of pandemic will address how the experience of the coronavirus pandemic has modified language, creating neologisms in all languages - from Italian covidiota or English covidiots to French quatorzaine to Dutch hamsteren to the universal trikini (a bikini with a matching face mask) up to quaranteam. Obsoleted war metaphors have now been dusted off and used to describe the disease and reactions to it, while other expressions such as "viral post" or "going viral", or "contagious enthusiasm", now felt as linguistic taboos, have disappeared.

On September 22 at 6:15PM, the second webinar, ‘Man: survival vs wellbeing’, will deal with man as part of the system of life. Like animals and plants, he shows a capacity to adapt to survival that is often underestimated. In the last period, people have shown capable, for example, of living in isolation much longer than expected, finding a new balance. Nevertheless, the absence of physical and social interaction has proved detrimental to human well-being.

The second webinar will feature as guest speakers Telmo Pievani, Professor of Philosophy of Biological Sciences at the University of Padua; Fabio Piano, Provost and Professor of Biology at NYU Abu Dhabi, and founding Director of NYU's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, NYU; Mariam Ketait, Emirati family Doctor, wellbeing Designer and co-founder of Ebb & Flow in Abu Dhabi.

On September 29 at 6:15PM, the third webinar, ‘Live art and events: irreplaceable?’, will focus on the necessary

contextuality to the work of art. As Walter Benjamin stated in “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935), even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: the work of art physical presence in time and space, and its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. Virtually attending cultural events or visiting museums or art tourism in general have proved to be incomparable.

The third webinar will feature as guest speakers Christian Greco, Italian Egyptologist and current Director of the Egyptian Museum of Turin; Bartolomeo Pietromarchi, art critic and Director of MAXXI Arte - National Museum of XXI Century Arts, Rome; Faisal Al Hassan, manager of Abu Dhabi gallery Warehouse421; Naseer Shamma, Maestro, Oud Master, Director of Bait Al Oud and Peace Ambassador for UNESCO; Manal Al Dowayan, Saudi Arabian multimedia artist and photographer.

The following webinars, to take place in October, November and December, will be announced in the coming weeks.

As Dr. Ida Zilio-Grandi, Director of the Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi, Embassy of Italy to the United Arab Emirates, said: “The pandemic is a real challenging experience for humankind, as all pandemics have proved to be in the past. The purpose of our webinars is to explore the limits of technology, as fundamental as it might be, when related to the unicity of human cultural experience, also considering the Italian humanistic tradition throughout history”.

The webinars, part of the cultural events organized by the Institute, will be free and open to the public to attend either on live broadcast or catch up post-event. Participants who wish to join the webinars can register on ZOOM through our website https://iicabudhabi.esteri.it/iic_abudhabi/en.


About the Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi

A body of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MAECI), the Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi is responsible for spreading and promoting the Italian language, culture and arts to the wider world. As the cultural arm to the Italian Embassy in the UAE, the body strives to organize cultural, artistic and scientific initiatives to UAE’s richly diverse population - with Italy as their central theme. The Italian Cultural Institute in Abu Dhabi is one of 83 Italian Cultural Institutes (IIC) around the world which, together, promote the image of Italy and its rich culture abroad.

By acting not only as a showcase and source of current information on Italy, but also as a driving force behind initiatives and projects of cultural cooperation, the Italian Cultural Institutes have become a focal point for both the Italian communities abroad and the growing demand for Italian culture throughout the world.

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