Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, at the inaugural ceremony of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2012 with Mustafa Othman Esmail, adviser of the Sudanese President, former Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora and Hoda Kanoo, founder of the Abu Dhabi Group for Culture and Arts and founder and artistic director for Abu Dhabi Festival. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The seventh edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival was inaugurated at a special ceremony at the Emirates Palace Hotel attended by dignitaries, guests and members of the public, on Monday.

Iraqi artist Hassan Massoudy's specially commissioned calligraphy exhibition ‘Gestures of Light' was the highlight of the evening's programme along with a performance by internationally renowned musician Anoushka Shankar, who is widely regarded as one of the world's leading sitar players, and the only artist to be trained exclusively by her father, the legendary Ravi Shankar.

"Every year we aim to showcase the diversity of the world's artists and genres by bringing a taste of global music and performances to the nation's capital. With Anoushka's involvement in this year's festival, we broke new ground with her mesmerising young talent renowned the world over and set a new bar for future performances," said Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo, founder and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival.

Students honoured

Additionally, outstanding Emirati students from the UAE University, Zayed University and the Higher Colleges of Technology were recognised for their participation in initiatives supported by the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation.

They included the Young Media Leaders programme, which provides training for careers in the media and the Theatre-in-Education (Tie) programme, a series of workshops led by the City University of New York's creative arts team.

The festival also presented a lifetime achievement award posthumously to Dr Walid Gholmieh, a prominent conductor, composer, scholar and activist for western classical music in the Middle East, and a defining influence in Lebanon's classical landscape.

The 27-day event, which will end on April 6, includes 168 cultural and artistic events across the UAE.