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Paolo Petrocelli (PhD-EMBA) is a senior cultural manager, university professor and journalist driven by the belief that culture, arts and education are a major force for growth, development and change globally.

A passionate, innovative and dynamic cultural manager, academic and author with an extensive experience in leadership positions in a variety of organizational settings, Paolo Petrocelli is global cultural affairs and performing arts expert.

As per 2023, Petrocelli serves as the Head of Dubai Opera in the United Arab Emirates.

Paolo Petrocelli has established himself internationally with an innovative professional identity, holding prestigious leading positions in the arts and cultural sector.

Paolo Petrocelli

Cultural leadership

Over more than 15 years of academic and professional experience, Petrocelli has become one of the most dynamic young leaders in the field of arts, culture and youth development, collaborating with some of the largest international organizations, including United Nations, UNESCO, European Commission, World Economic Forum.

In 2024, he was named by Fast Company, the US business magazine, as one of the most creative personalities in the Middle East for his commitment as Head of the Dubai Opera and for his contribution to promoting the arts in the Region.

In 2023, Paolo Petrocelli has been recognized as Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum for continued contributions to arts and cultural development internationally.

In 2022, he has been selected by the think tank Friends of Europe among the 40 most influential young personalities in Europe and nominated European Young Leader.

In the same year, Fortune Magazine named him among the 40 most influential young personalities in Italy, as the first cultural manager ever selected.

Cultural & music diplomacy

As a cultural diplomacy ambassador and music diplomacy expert, Paolo Petrocelli serves in institutional roles to forge bonds through arts and culture in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the USA. 

He is the Founder and President of EMMA for Peace (Euro-Mediterranean Music Academy for Peace), international nonprofit organization for the promotion of a culture of peace through music diplomacy, Co-Founder of Opera for Peace, the largest worldwide organization for young opera professionals, and the Co-Founder and Honorary President of the Italian Youth Association for UNESCO, the largest youth organization in the UNESCO system worldwide, which he chaired as President for five years (2015-2019).

He serves as the Cultural and Music Diplomacy Officer for the Permanent Secretariat of the World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, Expert of the Education and Culture Executive Agency of the European Commission (EACEA) and Cultural Advisor to Coldplay, the multi Grammy award-winning British band.

He is the Coordinator of the Cultural Diplomacy Program at Bocconi University in Milan and Program Coordinator for the Professional Certificate in Cultural Diplomacy and International Cooperation at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).

For the e-learning platform of the Italian Encyclopedia Treccani, he has created a training course on cultural diplomacy for young citizens and students interested in understanding how to promote the culture of peace through the arts.

Paolo Petrocelli

Performing arts management

Top-level roles in the public and private sector round out Petrocelli’s wide knowledge and senior leadership expertise in the area of performing arts management.

As per 2023, Paolo Petrocelli serves as the Head of Dubai Opera in the United Arab Emirates.

From 2020 to 2022, Petrocelli served as founding Director General of the Stauffer Center for Strings of Cremona, the first international music center dedicated entirely to stringed instruments, home to the Accademia Stauffer, one of Italy’s most prestigious higher music education institutions.  

Former Youth Board Member of the International Music Council and the European Music Council, he has been appointed in 2014 as one of the youngest members ever elected to the Board of Directors of the Rome Opera House.

Former Associate Director at IMG Artists, he served as Assistant to the Superintendent for international development and external relations of the Rome Opera HouseAdvisor for International Development and Special Projects at the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman, Director General of ClassicheFORME, the International Chamber Music Festival founded by pianist Beatrice Rana, Lead for Italy of Sound Diplomacy, the leading global consultancy advising cities, governments, tourism boards and large organisations on music and night time economy policy, Head of Development, Communication and Marketing of Accademia Chigiana in Siena, Director of Institutional Affairs and International Affairs of Foundation Franco Zeffirelli in Florence, Vice President of the Italian Film Orchestra.

Petrocelli is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Member of the Advisory Council of the European Union Youth Orchestra (EUYO), a Board Member of the Italian Association for Cultural Economics, a Senior Board Member of the Luxury and Arts Club of the SDA Bocconi School of Management,  a former Board Member of the Accademia Chigiana of Siena and the Conservatory of Music of Venice and Music Expert of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO.

“Paolo Petrocelli has played a key role in developing the opera art form in the Middle East


Paolo Petrocelli


To help shape the next generation, Petrocelli lectures at leading universities, including New York University, Université Paris-Sorbonne, Bocconi University about cultural management and cultural diplomacy.

He is a Research Affiliate at the metaLAB (at) Harvard, an experimental research unit dedicated to innovation in the arts, media and humanities at Harvard University, where he coordinates the global research project Future Stage, dedicated to investigate the future of the performing arts.

He has been a Visiting Fellow at Yale University and a Visiting Researcher at MIT Media Lab, the interdisciplinary research laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts).


Petrocelli holds a PhD in Cultural Economics from the IULM University of Milan, an Executive MBA from SDA Bocconi School of Management of Milan, a Diploma in Violin Performance (MA) from the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia of Rome, a BA in Literature and Musicology from La Sapienza University of Rome, a BA (Hons) Music from Middlesex University of London and the Oxford Executive Leadership Programme Certificate from the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford.

Paolo Petrocelli


Petrocelli is a Member of the Italian Order of Journalists, a contributor for Forbes, Arabian Business, Huffington Post, an Advisory Council Member of the Harvard Business Review, an Official Member of Forbes Nonprofit Council and Rolling Stone Culture Council.

He is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Music Diplomacy – Stories from the World, the first blog community dedicated to collecting the most inspiring stories on music diplomacy from all over the world.

Petrocelli is a TEDx Speaker.

Gobal network

As an active global citizen, Petrocelli is a member of some of the most prominent international organizations. He is a Member of the Responsible Leaders Network of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, a Fellow of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, a Fellow of the Salzburg Global Seminar, a Junior Fellow (2015-2020) of the Aspen Institute, a Founding Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum and an Advisory Board Member of INTERSOS, the largest Italian NGO on the frontline of global emergencies in 19 countries around the world.

Paolo Petrocelli

“One of the most influential global cultural leaders