Itf you haven’t yet heard of the Museum of the Future, it’s not because you’re living in the past. Dubai’s new Museum of the Future opened its seven-story, circular structure in February 2022. The building is inscribed both inside and outside in Arabic script. It’s a striking new part of Dubai’s cityscape.
On Monday night, it was also the scene of the inaugural TIME100 Impact Awards and Gala, which doubled as the museum’s first official event. 200 guests met on the 7th floor’s white-carpeted, cavernous seventh level to recognize leaders who create, shape, and articulate a better world.
That’s all important, but as presenter, TIME100 alumnae, supermodel, and—most recently—ice-cream entrepreneur Tyra Banks noted in an off-the-cuff speech, so is staying down to earth. “I’m gonna keep it real,” she said, first explaining that she had been hearing about the Museum of the Future for months but only just realized that it was in, fact, Dubai’s newest landmark. And there was more: “When I sat down in my chair, my pants busted open. And I was like, I don’t know what to do. But yeah, it’s time to just keep it real tonight,” she said brightly.
After that, Kattan introduced Huda Kattan (beauty mogul), who was the final honoree. She emphasized the main point of the evening: each one of us can have the influence and power to impact the world because all of us have the ability to access platforms to share the important things. (Kattan began her career as what some might call an “influencer” and grew a major social media presence, but reinforced the fact that everyone has the opportunity to influence others.)
Tyra Banks takes a photograph with Huda Kattan, honoree at the TIME 100 Impact Awards & Gala.
Pause Films / Alin Razvan
As an eclectic mixture of honourees and guest gathered beneath the arching, sculptured ceiling, it was a night meant to show just that. TIME100 alumni, leaders in government, as well as royals, were among the guests. and Middle East as well as leaders of companies such as crypto exchange FTX or artificial intelligence group G42.
There was African billionaire philanthropist and fellow Impact Award honoree Tony Elumelu chatting with Kattan, for instance, in between dinner courses—maybe about NFTs, her most recent area of investment, as she shared earlier on the red carpet. Honoree Deepika Padukone was also present, dressed in a glittering, golden gown.
Will.i.am talks with Deepika Padukone, a fellow honoree, and Ranveer Sing at the TIME 100 Impact Awards Gala and Gala.
Pause Films / Alin Razvan
The night also honored David Adjaye (U.A.E.), a renowned architect. U.A.E. Chairwoman and Minister of State for Advanced Technology Space Agency Sara Al Amiri, and platinum-selling musician Ellie Goulding, each of whom shared thoughtful acceptance speeches about the connections they’ve made between their work and their passions for shaping a better tomorrow for their communities and others.
TIME’s CEO Edward Felsenthal, Editor-in-Chief of TIME, opened the evening. “At TIME, our mission is to shine a light on the people shaping the world, and we see this evening as the start of a powerful new chapter in that work,” he said. While recognizing the many crises the world is currently facing—political, environmental, humanitarian—he also gestured to the importance of acknowledging the progress we’re making toward solutions—especially with the help people like those honored by the TIME100 Impact Awards. “As journalists, my colleagues and I work in a deadline business. And our deadline, the deadline for all of us… is now.”
But the overall tone of the night was one of conversation—and celebration. Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, the mayor of Sierra Leone’s capital city, bopped her head to Goulding’s performance of “Love Me Like You Do,” while actress Kat Graham sat in the front row in an eye-catching yellow gown. “It’s such an honor to be here, and I know that sounds very cliche to say, but for an artist, it’s not enough to make art if it doesn’t have meaning,” Graham told TIME.
Ellie Goulding sings during the TIME 100 Impact Awards and Gala, Museum of the Future Dubai.
Pause Films / Charisma Andrea Du—IvanaMaglione
Lucy Chow was an investor who understood what Graham meant. Attending with her father, who was visiting from Canada, Chow—who has called Dubai home for more than a dozen years and is the director of the Women’s Angel Investing Network—beamed as she looked around the room. “I always say to entrepreneurs, you can make an impact and still be a profitable business,” she said, referencing the many honorees who have mixed their successful work with forwarding a cause. “I don’t think there’s a better place to have your inaugural awards than a nation that already believes in the power of connectivity.”
It was a Monday, so the crowd didn’t linger too long past midnight. Work was the next step.
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