Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

World Government Summit: The celebrities flying into Dubai

While we know most of them as actors or entertainers, these famous faces will be in the UAE to talk about philanthropy, business and the environment

Goldie Hawn will be in Dubai to talk about her positive education programme, while will.i.am will be attending the World Government Summit with his tech' entrepreneur hat on. AFP
Goldie Hawn will be in Dubai to talk about her positive education programme, while will.i.am will be attending the World Government Summit with his tech' entrepreneur hat on. AFP

The World Government Summit is in Dubai next week - meaning some of the globe's greatest minds will descend on the city to discuss the worldwide state of affairs between Sunday, February 11 and Tuesday, February 13.

Last year, 4,000 public and private sector officials attended the Madinat Jumeirah event (with the forums and speeches in 2017 leading to more than 19 million YouTube views), and this year Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and the IMF's Christine Lagarde will attend. There will also, however, be a smattering of famous faces from the arts and entertainment world.

Here are the celebrities that are slated to attend...


The Hawn Foundation

Goldie Hawn, 72, has been on our screens since 1967 - with her career taking off with films such as Private Benjamin (1980) and Overboard (1987). The actress says, however, that one of her key interests has always been "happiness", which is why she brought together a team of educators, neuroscientists and doctors to create an optimistic classroom curriculum called Mind Up via The Hawn Foundation. "I see children as bundles of pure potential," the actress explains, "and wanted to create a programme that helped children to grow, learn and lead a very different kind of world."



Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am is also a keen entrepreneur - his company I.Am+, which employs about 300 people, was founded in 2012 and initially focused on headphones, and then expanded into wearable tech in general. It is now going down the AI route, and has recently developed a voice assistant called Omega: it's kind of like Siri or Alexa, but is focused on business and customer support. He will be in Dubai with his company's co-founder Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan.


Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative and Unesco

Many of you will know Forest Whitaker from movies such as The Last King of Scotland, Ghost Dog and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. What less people realise is that the actor, producer and director is also a keen philanthropist. He was designated a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Peace and Reconciliation in 2012, and he is President and founder of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative NGO. The latter works to create peace building programmes in fragile communities in Africa, Latin America and the US. The organisation provides training in everything from conflict resolution to vocational skills and meditation.


Environmental campaigner

The actor and businessman (he's a co-owner of Nobu) will take part in a Climate Change Forum held at the World Government Summit in Dubai. He will talk about topics such as the effects of climate change on human prosperity. You can read more about Robert DeNiro's visit to the summit here.



Arianna Huffington founded The Huffington Post and is also the founder and CEO of Thrive Global - a corporate and consumer wellbeing platform that hopes to help change the way we live and work. Basically, she's on a mission to combat the 'burnout' that often comes hand in hand with success in today's fast-paced, 'always-on' world. She's written books about the topic, such as Thrive and The Sleep Revolution.


Hayden Planetarium

A meme-savvy internet favourite, astrophysicist and science expert Dr Tyson will be in Dubai in his capacity as the director of New York's Hayden Planetarium (which is part of the American Museum of Natural History), a position he's held since 1996.


Globally-renowned author

The Outliers and Blink author has written for the New Yorker since 1996, and has his own podcast called Revisionist History. He's a social commentator that manages to connect various dots in our society to uncover fads, trends and fallacies that we never knew existed.


The Chopra Foundation

A post shared by Deepak Chopra (@deepakchopra) on

Oprah's favourite new age expert, Deepak Chopra has authored more than 85 books (that have been translated into 43 languages). He is a doctor in internal medicine and endocrinology, but takes a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, advocating everything from ayurveda to meditation.

Other names to know…

While all of the attendees of the summit are celebrities in their own field, here are some of the other key design, media and entertainment personalities that will fly into Dubai for the event...

AMIT SOOD Director of Google Cultural Institute and Art Project

BJARKE INGELS – Founder of BIG Group (that designed Warehouse 421 in Abu Dhabi)

A post shared by Bjarke ingels (@bjarkeingels) on

ADAM MELONAS – Chew (food innovation lab)

NEIL HARBISSON – Cyborg Foundation (colour-blind artist known for 'hearing colours' and being the first person to have an antenna implanted in his skull to become a 'cyborg'. The antenna sends audible vibrations to his skull to report information to him).

A post shared by Neil Harbisson (@neilharbisson) on

MAE JEMISON – NASA (the first African American woman to travel to space, in 1992). Other astronauts attending are Colonel Chris Hadfield (of YouTube fame, below) and Cady Coleman.


Read more:

Could the UAE be a contender as the next Bric nation?

Your definitive list of things to do in Dubai

Tech talk: gadgets that took top honours at the CES Innovation Awards


Updated: February 10, 2018 09:56 PM