Abu Dhabi: Over 500 schools and 16,000 pupils across the UAE will once again take part in a diverse range of workshops and events once the Abu Dhabi Festival kicks off its ninth edition on March 11, it was revealed on the sidelines of a conference yesterday announcing the event's line-up.

The 27-day festival, which includes educational, cultural and community programmes, will take place in 34 venues and is organised by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.

"We are so pleased that an increasing number of schools are interesting in taking part in the festival's education programme, which highlights the importance of arts in education, as this enhances pupils' overall learning experience. In fact, demand has been so overwhelming that we are requesting schools to book a place as soon as possible to avoid disappointment," Huda Al Khamis Kanoo, founder and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, told Gulf News.

"Among the educational activities that will take place for the first time is the Scottish Opera's BabyO which allows mothers with children as young as six months and up to 2 years old an opportunity to enjoy a fun, musical experience together. This was organised with the Manchester International Festival," she said.

Range of activities

With more than 18 countries taking part in the event, including the UK, which is this year's Country of Honour, members of the public across the UAE can enjoy a range of events and activities that are being held this year under the theme ‘Connecting Cultures'.

"There will be three outstanding collaborations and seven Arab premieres as part of the UK's participation in the festival, such as Beloved Friend, which is produced by the Royal Opera House and explores the relationship between the [iconic] composer Tchaikovsky and his patron, Nadzheda von Meck," Huda said.

Support for charities

The festival will also once again donate part of its ticket sales to charity.

This year's recipients are The Brave Heart Fund at the American University of Beirut Children's Heart Centre and the United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) to support arts education programmes in seven countries in the Middle East.