Earlier this month, the world witnessed the joyous and splendid coronation of Their Majesties King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
The historic occasion was celebrated not only by the people of the UK, but as well the Arab world, and in particular here in the UAE where the two leaders, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Majesty King Charles III, have forged over many years an enduring relationship built upon trust, friendship and understanding.
I had the great privilege of meeting His Majesty on many occasions in London, Abu Dhabi and around the world where I found him to be exceptionally charming, warm, gentle and extremely gracious.
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I was fortunate to have experienced first-hand his legendary sense of humour during an encounter of which I am particularly fond of when King Charles, then the Prince of Wales, visited Bahrain’s Bait Al Quran.
His Majesty displayed a profound love and appreciation for my father-in-law’s personal collection and while admiring a set of Mughal-era pearls, he turned to me and, with his signature smile, suggested I wear them. Needless to say, I followed his sage advice.
A Man of Enlightenment
King Charles is widely regarded as an ardent supporter of the arts and the revival of tradition. I must say His Majesty’s love of the arts and culture has inspired us at the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) to forge partnerships with many of the institutions of which he is patron. Through our collaboration with the Royal Opera House, we were able to present spectacular productions on the Abu Dhabi Festival stage.
The memorable Tchaikovsky masterpiece ‘Beloved Friend’ and the new co-production of ‘Carmen’ on the stage of the Royal Opera House brought beauty and joy to thousands of people from the Arab world and beyond, showcasing the power of the arts to transcend borders and unite humanity.
His enthusiasm and committed support for the preservation of the arts was reflected in the personal message he penned for our Abu Dhabi Festival 2012 publication in which he expressed his ‘delight’ at the partnership between The Royal Opera House and the Festival and commended our efforts in making the remarkable revival of ‘Beloved Friend’ possible.
Heritage and Tradition
King Charles’ passion and admiration for preserving heritage and tradition brought ADMAF and the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts Trust together in a strong partnership, reviving the traditions of magnificent Islamic architecture, timeless poetry, mesmerising geometric patterns, unique craftsmanship, and captivating calligraphy.
The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts opened new doors for hundreds of students, with the knowledge and the opportunities it provided. As they innovated, created and mastered unique know-hows, the new artworks and concepts they brought to life were both a testimony to the region’s rich cultural legacy and a reinvention of this proud heritage.
The King has always been known to lend his support to bridge cultural divides, advance the arts, preserve heritage, and address critical global issues like the environment. His Majesty has been an extraordinary champion for the environment, since well before climate change became a terribly urgent and talked-about issue.
The upcoming COP28 to be hosted in Dubai later this year shall bring the world together and echo King Charles’ wise, prescient work and advocacy in favour of the environment that will always be an inspiration to all of us.
It is my sincere hope that through His Majesty’s leadership, vision, and unwavering commitment to upholding the values of respect, tolerance, coexistence and enlightenment we will continue together to thrive and prosper and remain a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come.
Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo is the Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. She is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival