Arts and Culture

Davos 2019: Meet the Crystal Award winners

Marin Alsop, Haifaa Al-Mansour and Sir David Attenborough will be honoured at Davos 2019 for their leadership in advancing positive change.

Hilde Schwab
Chairperson and Co-Founder, Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, World Economic Forum Geneva
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting will take place in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland from 22-25 January under the theme, “Globalization 4.0: Shaping a Global Architecture in the Age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”

We only have one planet, and its wellbeing concerns us all. We are in a time when we need to see clearly what unites us more than what divides us, and how embracing diversity enables us to make better collective decisions that affect us all. It is in this context that the Crystal Award has shined a light, for 25 years now, on exceptional cultural leaders who are part of moving us forward towards positive change. This year, we recognize the leadership of conductor Marin Alsop, film director Haifaa Al-Mansour and broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough. Their remarkable achievements inspire us to see beyond the limits of convention to find solutions for the current issues the world faces.

The winners will be honoured at the opening session of the Forum’s Annual Meeting 2019 at 18.00 CET on Monday 21 January, and webcast live at Join us for an important moment of inspiration celebrating how we can all improve the world for the better.


Marin Alsop, for her leadership in championing diversity in music

Marin Alsop, Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony since 2007, is one of the greatest conductors of our time. Earlier this year she was the first woman to be appointed Chief Conductor of the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and, in 2013, was the first woman in 118 years to conduct the BBC’s “Last Night of the Proms”. She has tirelessly endeavoured to provide opportunities for all people to access music for a world where diversity in classical music is the norm rather than the exception. In Baltimore she launched the “OrchKids” programme to serve the city’s less privileged children, and the BSO Academy and Rusty Musicians for adult amateur musicians. She is also Music Director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. A graduate of Yale University and a MacArthur Fellow (2005), at the Annual Meeting, she will lead the Opening Performance with the Taki Concordia Orchestra.

Attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in 2006 inspired me to strive to become a more engaged world citizen, and I am deeply honoured to return to accept the Crystal Award and share my journey over these past 13 years.”

Haifaa Al-Mansour, for her leadership in cultural transformation in the Arab world

Haifaa Al-Mansour is the first female filmmaker in Saudi Arabia. “Wadjda”, Al-Mansour’s feature debut, was the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia and the first by a female director. The breakthrough success of her 2005 documentary “Women Without Shadows” initiated a new wave of Saudi filmmakers and front-page headlines of Saudi Arabia finally opening cinemas in the kingdom. She was recently appointed to the Board of the General Authority for Culture to advise on the development of the cultural and arts sectors in Saudi Arabia. She recently released “Mary Shelley”, starring Elle Fanning, and “Nappily Ever After”, starring Sanaa Lathan. Al-Mansour is the first artist from the Arabian Gulf region to be invited to join the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science.

“I hope this award gives encouragement to women everywhere who want to break from tradition, and who want to be who they are without fear of being judged. That is a quality we need to cultivate as women, because we are still vulnerable when it comes to not being accepted. This award shows the value of stepping out of line, and taking a chance to go after our dreams and what we believe in.”

Sir David Attenborough, for his leadership in environmental stewardship

Sir David Attenborough’s broadcasting career spans six decades. He has played an extraordinary role in both reinventing and developing the medium of television, and in connecting people to the wonders of the natural world, bringing distant peoples, animals and habitats into living rooms across the planet. As a BBC producer and executive, he has played a crucial part in creating new forms of programming and scheduling that to this day influence global broadcasting. His work includes many iconic productions, from the ground-breaking “Zoo Quest” series to landmark programmes including “Life on Earth”, “The Living Planet”, “The Trials of Life”, “The Private Life of Plants”, “Life of Mammals” and “Planet Earth”. In Davos, Sir David will present key sequences from “Our Planet”, a new series focusing on the preservation of life on earth.

“I have always been fascinated by nature and have endeavoured to share my enthusiasm with as many people as possible through television. Never has an understanding of the natural world been so important to ensure a safe future for our planet.”

Follow the Crystal Awards ceremony live on Monday 21 January 2019 at 18.00 here.

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