Abu Dhabi Festival as a Tool to Promote Cultural Diplomacy

Rich Cultural Heritage of the Middle East Presented in France and USA under the Patronage of Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs

July 25th, 2016
Martina Hanáková, CD News

Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) has organized two major cultural events on different continents. The events will be in collaboration with leading global organisations, under the patronage of H. H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

# The first event took place in the south of France during the Festival d´Aix-en-Provence, which ran from the 1st of July until the 17th of July (Theatre du Jeu de Paume). It included the world premiere run of the opera "Kalila Wa Dimna“. This opera was composed by Palestinian musician and composer Moneim Adwan, and was performed in Arabic and in French. He was inspired by the book of the same name Kalila Wa Dimna, written by Ibn Al Muqaffa, an ethnic Persian translator, author and thinker who wrote in the Arabic language (8th century).

This piece is actually based on an ancient collection of animal tales from far-away India called Panchatantra. With the libretto co-written by Syrian Fady Jomar and conducted by Zied Zouari from Tunis. The opera will soon leave on an international tour travelling not only across France, but also to countries such as Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Mexico. The opera is the latest example of ADMAF´s cooperation with France; this initiative aims to strenghten cultural relations and provide cultural exchange.

The second event "Star of the East: An Homage to Umm Kulthum“, was held in Washington DC, in the National Museum for Women in Arts. The Cultural Capital session honoured Egyptian singer and song writer Umm Kulthum who is known also as ‘The Star of the East’. This one day event organized on the 10th of July features performances from her famous repertoire and consists of discussions about the social and political context in which Kulthum became the “Diva of Arabic Song,” as well as the impact of this astonishing icon.

The Museum in partnership with the Middle East Institute invited performers and speakers such as Huda Asfour (Palestinian performer and composer), Lubana Al Quntar (Syrian; soprano), Laura Lohman (associate professor of music, California State University, Fullerton), Hazami Sayed (executive director, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Philadelphia). The session was led by Lyne Sneige (director, Arts & Culture Program, Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C.)

The connection between the Abu Dhabi Festival platform and the cooperating organizations, enabled the transmission of artistic treasures of the Middle East into the Western part of the World and surely brought countries together. Organizers hope that this example of cooperation will be a great tool used to enable societies to better understand each other. Apart from these efforts, the Foundation seeks to promote Abu Dhabi´s place in the international culture site.


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