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Abu Dhabi Festival Extends Spirit Of ’Bilad Al Khayr’ With An Expanded Community Programme
(17 March 2011)
30 Events across the seven emirates of the UAE give more people access to the arts during Abu Dhabi Festival 2011


The Abu Dhabi Festival, 19 March – 4 April 2011, will celebrate the spirit of ‘Bilad Al Khayr’ – the ‘Land of Blessings’ through a diverse range of community-focused activities across the United Arab Emirates. The programme is packed with musical performances, drama activities, lectures and hands-on workshops that span the 7 Emirates including the Western Region and involves the UAE community, special needs centres, orphanages and women shelters that will bring people together from across the country in celebration of the unique sense of ‘Harmony for Humanity’ created through the arts and culture.

Held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the Abu Dhabi Festival community programme builds on the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation’s (ADMAF) year round schedule of activities. It is supported and delivered by successful partnerships with a range of esteemed local organisations. Highlights of the programme include three performances from the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland, the 7th Emirates International Peace Music Festival, The Hakawati Theatrical Production, and a range of storytelling and art and music workshops.

Founder and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, Her Excellency Mrs. Hoda Ibrahim Al Khamis Kanoo, said: “The Abu Dhabi Festival is the Festival of the people of Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a country of tolerance and respect. It is a place where people from diverse backgrounds and cultures have made their home. Our exciting community programme will provide more ways than ever before for people from across the country to engage with the wonderful unifying spirit of the arts. The programme will explore the arts in all its facets – music, drama, spoken word and traditional arts of the Emirates. Bringing alive our cultural assets is imperative to their long term survival and we hope that our exciting programme will engage a new generation of arts lovers.”

The National Youth Orchestra of Ireland will get the community programme off to a rousing start with a performance from some of the world’s brightest young musical talent. Abu Dhabi Festival will host Artnetwork at Abu Dhabi’s Beach Rotana Hotel. Three of Abu Dhabi’s most talented a capella community singing groups The Abu Dhabi Choral Group, Blue Fever and Voices of Harmony will demonstrate their talents and passion for music for members of the public.

Partnering with local organisations has always been central to ADMAF’s mission to bring the arts to the community. The Abu Dhabi Festival will offer Dubai Foundation for Women and Children the Kidz Art canvas painting workshop. Offering an opportunity to children of all ages to learn the craft of canvas and mural painting and painting with acrylics, this fun-filled workshop aims to open young minds to the unique freedom of painting. This important session aims to bring the arts and crafts to the women and children who have been the victims of physical and verbal abuse.

Extending Abu Dhabi Festival’s mission to demonstrate its commitment to children with special needs in the UAE, Dubai Drums, the popular local drumming group, will visit special needs centres in Ras Al Khamiah, Ajman and will travel as far as Delma Island in the Western Region to serve the centre there. The Festival will also bring Dubai Drums to two elementary schools in Delma. Bringing its unique brand of energy and spirit, Dubai Drums uses rhythm as a tool for team building skills and aims to build self-confidence and communication skills and above all be fun and inclusive for children of all abilities. Dubai Drums aspire for ‘unity through rhythm where group drumming becomes a unifier and energiser.

Abu Dhabi’s Ewa’a Shelter, one of the Festival’s nominated charities, will host The Picasso Project giving participants the opportunity to experiment with paints, charcoals, clays, oils, pastels and sand. The Picasso Project will also visit the Dar Zayed Orphanage in Al Ain introducing a combined drama workshop which aims at engaging children with a range of fun interactive exercises aimed at building the children’s confidence and creative skills.

Storytelling has been an Emirati tradition for generations. Keeping this important tradition alive is the Hakawati Theatrical Production of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. This touring production will travel to community centres in Al Ain and the Western Region, including Ghayathi, Madinat Zayed and Mirfa. This reflects the Abu Dhabi Festival and ADMAF’s deep rooted commitment in providing access to the arts for all, even those located in remote areas.

The theme of storytelling continues with a performance of by acclaimed storytelling Margaret Wolfson who, alongside conductor Michael Ching will present a series of stories dramatised and accompanied by music and scenery. The performance, at Abu Dhabi Theatre, will draw on storytelling heritage from across the globe. The programme will include stories from Japanese culture and Greek mythology. Storytelling workshops led by Wolfson will take place in schools and community groups across the Emirates and will collaborate with Abu Dhabi’s Cross Culture Group in a storytelling forum. Locations include Umm Al Quwain, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Touring the Emirates in 2011 will be the 7th Emirates International Peace Music Festival. Bringing together some of the brightest UAE-based young talent from the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra with some of the brightest members of the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Premiere Music College, Prague, this series of concerts will celebrate the unique capability of the arts to bring people from diverse background together in harmony. Along the way they will perform in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Fujairah and Sharjah.

Exploring the healing power of arts, the Abu Dhabi Festival, will visit Mafraq Hospital in Abu Dhabi and Tawam Hospital in Al Ain. Research has shown that incorporating the power of music in medicine can encourage a faster and more therapeutic recovery. This tour brings together a group of talented amateur and professional musicians to play for patients. Meanwhile in a fascinating panel discussion ‘Music & Special Needs: Bringing out the Brilliance’ will explore the transformative effect of music on children with special needs.

The Festival brings a truly authentic local experience celebrating the cultural and heritage of the UAE at the Ghantoot Coastal Marine Reserve led by the Emirates Marine Environmental Group. The day will include a discussion with an Emirati sea captain, hamour feeding, mangrove relay and many other authentic local activities.

On Saturday 26 March, between 8:30pm and 9:30pm more than 200 cities around the world will unite for Earth Hour 2011. Abu Dhabi Festival in collaboration with EWS-WWF is extremely pleased to support this global initiative in 2011, utilising the power of the arts as a call to action to raise awareness about energy saving. Abu Dhabi Corniche will host Dubai Drums, unifying the community with drumming circles to celebrate this fantastic event.

For further information about the Abu Dhabi Festival Community Programme and to find out how you can get involved, please visit or call the hotline on 050 907 6158.


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