Turkish singer and guitarist Emre Sonmezler (centre) performs at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi yesterday with his group ahead of the Turkish Art and Food Festival that starts today. He is one of several luminaries to feature in the festival. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: They have come from across Turkey, eager to highlight their country's rich culture through a week-long celebration of music, artistry, calligraphy and food, as part of the second annual Turkish Art and Food Festival.

Master ceramic artist and Unesco "Living Human Treasure" Mehmet Gursoy, is in the UAE capital with several of his illustrious compatriots — award winning marble artist Atilla Can, calligraphist Mehmet Nuri, musicians Emre Sonmezler, Namik Yalmaz and Bilgin Uygur, as well as chefs Murat Ozkan, Hamdullah Bulut and Mehmet Isik.

They will be the star attractions at the festival which starts today and runs until October 27 at the Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort.

Happy to be back

"I'm very happy to be back… I had a wonderful time last year interacting with visitors and explaining my techniques. For this year's festival, I have created some very unique pieces that I hope visitors will enjoy," said Gursoy, who was recognised in 2009 for his revival of the Inznik ceramic technique in 1975, after it had died out in the 16th century.

Nuri, who is visiting Abu Dhabi for the first time, said he was excited about the experiences in store for him throughout the event.

"I can't wait to start interacting with everyone and see what they have to say about my work… but if I'm able to meet some of the calligraphers here and share information on our different techniques, I think that would be one of the highlights of being here," he said. His fellow participants also said that while they were proud to be cultural ambassadors for their country, they hoped there would be enough time to explore and absorb the sights and sounds of the UAE capital.

"I'm very curious about Emirati culture… last year, I was disappointed that I didn't really have the chance to fully interact with UAE nationals or to visit heritage sites and learn more about their history and traditions. Hopefully this year, I'll be able to do just that," Atilla said.