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More than 100 events lined up for Abu Dhabi Festival 2018

India selected as ‘Country of Honour’ for festival, which takes place from February 1 to March 30

  • From left:Ihab Darwish, Emirati composer, Christina Schepplemann, Artistic Director General of the Gran TeatreImage Credit:
  • From left:Ihab Darwish, Emirati composer, Christina Schepplemann, Artistic Director General of the Gran TeatreImage Credit:
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Featuring more than 100 events, 26 productions, and more than 500 international artists taking part, the line up for next year’s Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF18) was announced by organisers on Monday, with the festival set to take place from February 1 to March 30.

Organised by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF), the ADF enters its 15th edition next year, having established itself under the patronage of Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, as one of the region’s leading cultural and arts event.

India has been selected as the ‘Country of Honour’ for the ADF18, with a selection of Indian cultural performances to be on show, including The Merchants of Bollywood, a theatrical show that celebrates Indian dance.

The ADF18 will also feature the UAE’s very own Emirati composer Ihab Darwish with the world premiere of ‘Waves of my Life’ performed by Beethoven Academy Orchestra conducted by Stoyan Stoyanov and a host of other stars.

Other acts to headline the festival include performances by violinist Nicola Benedetti with the UK’s Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia — Rome.

“We celebrate the year of Shaikh Zayed not only to honour a beloved leader from the past, but because his spirit lives on in us as an appeal to the future. Shaikh Zayed built a nation by practicing tolerance, hope and inclusion rather than fear and rejection and we honour this legacy by continuing this wonderful message,” commented Huda Al Khamis Kanoo, founder of ADMAF and artistic director of ADF.

“We are inspired to weave the elegant and intricate balance between tradition and modernity. We rejoice in the diversity of seven emirates complimenting each other, but also the cultural diversity within the UAE, which is home to so many different nationalities, living side by side in harmony and prosperity,” she added, highlighting how the festival’s diversity mimicked that of the UAE.

Al Khamis said that with the ADF18 and the recent opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, that Abu Dhabi was positioning itself as a main hub and destination for culture.

“2017 marks the opening of our spectacular Louvre Abu Dhabi, which traces the powerful message of human universality amid cultural diversity echoing the journey of the Abu Dhabi Festival.

“As we continue to discover and learn, we truly take pleasure in sharing with all in the capital and the seven emirates the extraordinary gift which Shaikh Zayed has granted us,” she added.

Navdeep Singh Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said the recognition of India as the ‘Country of Honour’ was a continued sign of the strengthening cultural relations between his country and the UAE.

“When we signed the strategic partnership agreement between India and the UAE during the historic visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, when he was our chief guest at republic day … It was clear that this was not just about trade and investment … but also about culture and people to people cooperation.

“Our partnership with the ADF as the Country of Honour symbolises our shared commitment to drive that cooperation between cultures,” he added.

Suri said the ADF would allow Indians to showcase their culture to a wider audience, with shows and performances that go beyond Bollywood, which, he said, was what many people often associated Indian culture with.

“We must absolutely take Indian culture mainstream, to make sure there is a much better understanding of an India beyond Bollywood.

“The Country of Honour status … supports a greater a visibility for Indian culture to a mainstream UAE audience,” he added.

For more details, including ticket prices, dates, and venues, visit the Abu Dhabi Festival’s main website: