Abu Dhabi Festival Promoting Cultural Exchange and Understanding

The rich cultural heritage of the Middle East was presented in France and the USA, under the patronage of Emirati Minister of Foreign Affairs

August 10th, 2016
Matina Hanáková, CD News

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

The first event took place in the south of France at the Festival d´Aix-en-Provence, which ran from 1st -17th July in the Theatre du Jeu de Paume, and showcased the world premiere of the opera "Kalila Wa Dimna”. This opera was composed by Palestinian musician and composer, Moneim Adwan, and is performed in Arabic and French. He was inspired by the book of the same name, Kalila Wa Dimna, written by Ibn Al Muqaffa, an 8th century ethnic Persian translator, author and scholar who wrote in the Arabic language. This piece is in fact 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 undertake an international tour. It will travel not only across France, but also to Tunisia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Mexico, touring until November 2017. The opera is the latest example of ADMAF´s cooperation with France; this initiative aims to strengthen 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 songwriter, Umm Kulthum, who is also known as “The Star of the East”. The influence of this icon still resonates, inspiring musicians and delighting audiences. This one-day event, held on July 10th, featured performances from her well-known repertoire and discussions regarding the social and political context in which Kulthum became the “Diva of Arabic Song,” in addition to the impact of her work.

The museum, with the partnership of 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) and Hazami Sayed (executive director, Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, Philadelphia). The session was led by Lyne Sneige, director of the Arts & Culture Program at the Middle East Institute, Washington D.C.

This connection between the Abu Dhabi Festival platform and cooperating organizations allowed the artistic treasures of Middle East to be transported to the western world, bringing cultures together.

Organizers hope this effort will act as a tool, enabling societies to better understand one another. Aside from these events, the foundation also seeks to promote Abu Dhabi´s place on the international culture stage.


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