13th edition of Abu Dhabi Festival starts today

ABU DHABI, 3nd April, 2016 (WAM) Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the 13th edition of Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF) started today.

Organised annually by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), the largest cultural Festival in the region takes place throughout the month of April, with a variety of events, exhibitions and workshops across the UAE.

2016 sees France as the Country of Honour and in celebration of this the ADF headline programme will commence with a performance by Natalie Dessay and Laurent Naouri in Recital (10 April). The 20-day-long celebration of arts and culture will see the Festival hosting globally renowned performers and artists including Lang Lang in Recital (14 April), Orchestre de Paris (15/17 April), the Festival’s much anticipated stage production The Little Prince (April 21-22), and Carlos Acosta (25-26 April). The 2016 Festival will also see the return of the much acclaimed Festival Recital Series featuring the Joey Alexander Trio (27 April) and the Alfredo Rodr?guez Trio (28 April) at New York University Abu Dhabi Arts Center.

The theme of Abu Dhabi Festival 2016 calls upon the people of the UAE to make a ‘Pledge For Culture’ by enjoying the Festival’s variety of cultural events, along with the UAE’s broader year-round calendar of culture. Commenting upon the pledge, Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and the Abu Dhabi Festival; said: “This edition of the Festival is particularly special for me, as it is this year that we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. Since its inception, ADMAF has been at the forefront of the UAE’s cultural sector through its array of cultural initiatives – one of which is the annual Abu Dhabi Festival.

“Over the past 20 years, I have seen the cultural landscape of the UAE transform from a blossoming hub to a hotbed of creativity. This is why the Festival is calling upon the people of the UAE to make a pledge for culture to ensure that our society continues to flourish. As we look ahead to the next 20 years of ADMAF, we look to the people of the UAE to carry the values of culture forward. To me, culture stands for unity, for innovation and for the humanity of our society.”

Officially kicking-off the Festival today, Music in Hospitals (3-7 April) sees the nation’s young musicians perform for patients, visitors and staff at various hospitals across the UAE. The annual initiative aims to enrich the quality of life and wellbeing of patients through the power of music.

VISUAL ARTS Starting the visual arts element of ADF, The Christo & Jeanne-Claude Award 2016 (4-27 April) will present the 2016 winning piece, ‘Silk Road’, at New York University Abu Dhabi. Other art highlights include; Liminality by Daniel Kariko (7-27 April), an exhibition that investigates the ideas of disappearing and changing landscapes through photography at the University of Sharjah. As part of Autism Awareness Month, Picture This in association with Gulf Capital (10-30 April) will present a mini-exhibition following a series of workshops with boys and girls, including students of The New England Center for Children Abu Dhabi, The Future Centre for Special Needs, GOALS UAE and The Emirates Autism Society, in collaboration with START. The Islamic Arts Exhibition (11-30 April) will present a breath-taking collection of Islamic art created by the people of Sharjah at the Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization.

In celebration of ADMAF’s 20th anniversary, ADF’s headline exhibition Portrait of a Nation (11 April – 10 May), is a landmark exhibition featuring one of the largest ever presentations of Emirati art in the UAE. Open to the public at the Emirates Palace Gallery, the exhibition features 20 newly commissioned works, alongside 30 other works to collectively capture the vivid and diverse portrait of the UAE nation.

With a string of performing arts initiatives across the UAE, highlights include a fascinating documentary theatre production, Memories of Childhood (6 April) which presents poignant, personal monologues and research based on childhood memories shared by mothers and grandmothers at the Institute of Applied Technology, Abu Dhabi. Yann’Sine in Concert (7 April) will see the acclaimed 22-year-old singer, finalist of Morocco’s hit TV show ‘Studio 2M’ and semi-finalist of ‘The Voice 2015’ in France, joined by four musicians for an evening of Arabic, English and French song at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Held at the Armed Forces Officers Club, Abu Dhabi, The Bullet (24 April) will tell the story of a newly married couple, presumably in love until they face a gun-toting psychopath who insists on shooting one of them. Love disappears and the couple realises that they love themselves more than each other.

A favourite component of the annual Abu Dhabi Festival are family-friendly events and this year’s offering will not fail to impress! Back with a BANG, Ministry of Science Live! (16 April) will see children entertained by the educational live show at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. Held in various locations across the UAE, The Wings of Life (18-25 April) tells the touching tale of a young boy who discovers he has wings but doesn’t understand why. He soon learns that each feather represents an element of the natural world that he must look after. Held under the patronage of Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, Festival in The Park: Where Creativity Blossoms (29-30 April) is a two-day celebration of concerts and workshops in the name of creativity at Mother Of The Nation Park Amphitheatre. The event will feature some of the UAE’s up and coming young talents, while various workshops will teach children how to craft.

Last, but by no means least, ADF would not be complete without the film and literature component of the Festival. As part of this, ADF’s new writing programme, Riwaq Al Kitab (20 April) held at the Emirates Palace Gallery will celebrate Arabic literature with the release of six new literary works by Emirati authors including Badriya Al Shamsi, Shaima Al Marzouqi, Mohammad Nouraldin, among others. Having graced the film festivals of Hong Kong and Edinburgh, ADF presents the first UAE public screening of the award-winning documentary, Nearby Sky by Nujoom Al Ghanem (7 April) at VOX Cinemas, Nation Towers. The film portrays the life of Fatma Al Hameli, the first female Emirati camel owner to attend the country’s camel beauty contests and auctions. Finally, hot on the heels of its 2016 Oscars nomination, Theeb (18 April), screened at New York University Abu Dhabi, is an exceptional film that follows the exploits of a Bedouin boy who joins his older brother escorting a British officer across the desert in a remote part of the Ottoman Empire. The film is followed by a panel discussion on the making of Theeb with Naji Abu Nowar (Director) and Rupert Lloyd (Producer), and moderated by Nujoom Al Ghanem, the Emirati director and producer.