From left: Hamdan Butti Al Shamsi, Peter Wheeler, Huda I. Al Khamis Kanoo, Aurellie Dupont and Yeon-jean Yoon at a press conference held in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Celebrating the best of art and culture, the line-up for the 16th annual edition of the Abu Festival was announced on Monday, with more than 100 events, 500 artists, 18 productions, 25 venues, and 17 countries set to feature.

Running next year from February 25 to March 30, the festival will have performances across multiple art genres including opera, ballet, orchestra, jazz and flamenco. The festival’s organisers also announced that the Republic of Korea would be the ‘Country of Honour’, with acts such as the Korean National Ballet and the Korean Symphony Orchestra taking part.

“Today, the festival enters its 16th year and we are all proud of its status as one of the leading, most prominent culture and arts festivals in the region and the world beyond,” said Huda I. Al Khamis Kanoo, founder of Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation and the artistic director of Abu Dhabi Festival.

“We celebrate Korea being the ‘Country of Honour’ for the 2019 Abu Dhabi Festival, a country of immense heritage, steady in its modernisation and benefiting from its creative sources, its rich culture and the beauty of its arts,” she added.

“The Abu Dhabi Festival fully identifies itself with the UAE’s spirit of Bilad Al Khair — the nation of good — that highly values respect, knowledge and tolerance at its core,” she said.

Yeon-jean Yoon, deputy head of mission for the Republic of Korea to the UAE said his country’s participation was another highlight of cultural diplomacy between both nations.

“Our partnership [with the UAE] is not only about political and economic matters, but also cultural matters. This festival will provide a wonderful opportunity for us to strengthen this cooperation [in cultural relations].”

Partnership with Special Olympics

The festival will also be partnering with the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi, with a letter of cooperation signed between both groups. Held under the theme of ‘Culture of Determination’, the Abu Dhabi Festival 2019 aims to highlight the contributions made to society by people of determination.

“Music and arts transcend all boundaries, and provide fantastic opportunities for people of determination to express themselves, experience joy and increase their self-esteem,” said Peter Wheeler, chief executive officer of Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.

“The World Games next year will focus not only on sport — we are planning a cultural olympiad for March 2019 celebrating the important role that people of determination play in all aspects of society,” he added.

“The festival will be a powerful voice for celebrating differences and promoting inclusion, and we are delighted that musicians with intellectual disabilities will be able to showcase their extraordinary talents to audiences here in the UAE,” Wheeler said, praising the festival for involving people of determination among its programmes.

Abu Dhabi Festival 2019

When: 25 February — 30 March

500 artists

100 events

18 productions

17 countries

Where to buy tickets:

Full programme listings and dates: