Media Release

Abu Dhabi Festival 2017 kicks off today!


Abu Dhabi Festival 2017 kicks off today!

The month-long series of cultural events will feature the world’s and the nation’s most celebrated arts practitioners, offering adventures in creativity for all

Legendary performer Wynton Marsalis and revered cellist Yo-Yo Ma among the visionaries to take to the stage at the Abu Dhabi Festival

(Abu Dhabi, UAE: 01 March 2017): The Abu Dhabi Festival 2017 starts today. Now in its 14th year, the Abu Dhabi Festival is the leading celebration of arts and culture in the region and takes places throughout the month of March. Organised annually by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), the Festival features a variety of events, exhibitions, and workshops. Actively supporting emerging Emirati talent and advocating the importance of arts and culture in all aspects of life, this year’s sublime programme includes renowned artists and musicians from across the region and the world.

2017 sees Saudi Arabia as the Abu Dhabi Festival Country of Honour. Continuing its legacy, this year’s Festival celebrates the values of ‘Culture and Tolerance’ set by the late Sheikh Zayed, Founding Father of the UAE. In celebration of the Country of Honour, the Festival welcomes the renowned Saudi Arabian musician Mohamed Abdo (14 March). This illustrious performer, whose significance resounds across the region and internationally, has a particularly storied connection with the UAE – first performing in the early 1970s at the behest of the late Sheikh Zayed

The celebration of arts and culture will also see the Festival hosting globally renowned performers and artists including five-time GRAMMY award winner Tomatito (23 March), Asia’s finest orchestra China’s National Centre for The Performing Arts Orchestra (24 and 25 March), jazz legend Wynton Marsalis with a special guest appearance by Naseer Shamma (27 March), the highly acclaimed Queen Of Fado Mariza (29 March) and the sensational, electrifying and  GRAMMY award-winning Silk Road Ensemble With Yo-Yo Ma (31 March).


Commenting upon the theme, H.E. Huda Ebrahim AlKhamis, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and the Abu Dhabi Festival said: “The Abu Dhabi Festival is unique in that it harnesses culture to bring people of the UAE together. Since its inception, ADMAF has been at the heart and forefront of the UAE’s cultural sector and it is our privilege to present this array of cultural initiatives in the UAE as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival. The incredible range of artistic talent within the Festival is testament to the creative spirit of the UAE. In our eyes, the Abu Dhabi Festival is a gateway for culture to the rest of the world and conversely that brings the world to Abu Dhabi. Launched in 2004, the Festival continues to attract the highest caliber of artists to the UAE capital each year, bringing together artists, students, community groups and cultural organisations from across the UAE.”



This year, the Abu Dhabi Festival will see a diverse visual arts programme during the month of March and April. The exhibition, ‘The Art of Nature’ will run from 23rd March to 23rd April at Umm Al Emarat Park, featuring 40 works by talented Emirati and UAE-based artists exploring the Emirates natural environments. The exhibition, which is with the support of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, marks the 20th anniversary of Environment Agency–Abu Dhabi and will feature new commissions as well as loaned pieces inspired by the landscapes, species, flora and fauna of the Emirate.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a broad educational programme under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan, allowing aspiring artists of all ages to engage with UAE nature. The programme features commissioned artists Hazem Harb (leading a guided tour of the Mangrove National Park), Michael Rice, Anjali Srinivasan, Roberto Lopardo and Azza Al Qubaisi (in conversation) and a workshop by leading Emirati photographer Reem Saeed. Guided exhibition tours for adults and children will be available weekly while younger visitors can also explore the country’s marine, land and plant life in a dedicated activity area.

Each year, the Abu Dhabi Festival hosts a series of events that aim to nurture creativity among the next generation. Following last year’s success, the second edition of Picture This! workshops under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan will be led by Emirati artist Azza Al Qubaisi, involving up to 350 children with autism from centres across the UAE. In collaboration with Emirates Autism Society and Goals UAE Community Group and in partnership with Mubadala, the seven workshops will engage and inspire children through the art of colouring and stamping Kurab (palm eye) onto pre-stretched and prepared canvas, creating final artworks ready for public exhibition at the park.



A favourite component of the annual Abu Dhabi Festival are family-friendly events and this year’s offering will not fail to impress! Back by popular demand and with a brand new 60-minute roadshow, the Ministry of Science: The World Is One Classroom brought to you in association with Mubadala, will take students on an explosive journey into engineering and invention. The performances will include exploding Volcanos, G-Force CO2 Spinning Chairs, Fire Tornados and lots more.

For music lovers, the Association for Music in International Schools (AMIS) brings its annual choir festival to the UAE capital. The Amis High School Honor Choir Festival unites 200 of the most talented vocalists from international schools all over the world and will perform beautiful vocal music.


For film-lovers, the acclaimed film Let Them Come directed by the award-winning Salem Brahimi will be screened at The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi followed by a panel discussion.


In collaboration with independent publishing houses and in association with Emirates Writers’ Union, Abu Dhabi Festival’s new writing programme Riwaq Al Adab Wal Kitab celebrates Arabic literature with the release of six books by Emirati authors.


For budding actors, leading theatre-makers, Dr. Habib Ghuloom Al Attar, Abeer Wakil and Mahmoud Abu Al Abbas will host The UAE Theatre Circle – an intensive, three-week, theatre training course aimed at developing the skills of a select group of aspiring actors in improvisation, voice, movement and character development.

Running alongside the public events is The Artists’ Studio, the ADMAF digital platform that inspires and informs young people about the value of creative thinking and artistic expression. The series of interviews with legends such as Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Kevin Spacey, Nujoom Al Ghanem, among others will grow with new episodes featuring some of the Festival’s headline artists. Visit YouTube/admaf96



During Abu Dhabi Festival 2017, The Gulf Capital–Abu Dhabi Festival Visual Arts Award 2017 will open for entries from Emirati visual arts students and emerging artists. The AED10,000 prize will be awarded to the winning submission that creates an artwork inspired by ‘The Art of Nature’. For those who want to view last year’s winning work, ‘Here’s What They Think of Me?’ by Sara Al Ahbabi, visit the Emirates Palace Auditorium Foyer from 14 to 31 March.


Afra Atiq, the winner of The Gulf Capital–ADMAF Creativity Award 2017 will have her work exhibited during the Abu Dhabi Festival. The annual award established in 1996 recognises Emirati creativity in the visual arts, performing arts, literature, animation or film. Experience her spoken word work ‘Open Letter to Cancer’ in the Emirates Palace Auditorium Foyer from 14 to 31 March.


‘Wihda (Unity)’, the winner of The 2017 Huda and Mohamed Kanoo Award by Mohammad Abualhuda, Raghad Alali and Mohammad Rowaizak will be exhibited during the Festival (check website for details).  Reflecting upon the virtue of tolerance – the theme of the Abu Dhabi Festival and a core principle of Islamic society which is central to the vision of the UAE today – the multi-cellular sphere celebrates unity and diversity. ‘Wihda’ (Unity) was shortlisted for The Christo and Jeanne-Claude Award 2017.


The Abu Dhabi Festival is presented and organised by Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation. ADMAF is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision.

For further information on schedules, venues and performances please visit the Festival website Abu Dhabi Festival can also be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Abu Dhabi Festival 2017 Ticket Information

Tickets will be available to purchase at:

Students receive 50% discount (ID required).

Performance: Emirates Palace Ticket Prices
Mohamed Abdo: One Moonlit Evening Diamond (AED 350); Pearl (AED 250); Balcony (AED125)
China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts Orchestra Diamond (AED 350); Pearl (AED 250); Balcony (AED125)
Wynton Marsalis in Concert Diamond (AED 350); Pearl (AED 250); Balcony (AED125)
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma Diamond (AED 350); Pearl (AED 250); Balcony (AED125)
Mariza in Concert All seats (AED 250); Students receive 50% discount (ID required).


About Abu Dhabi Festival

The Abu Dhabi Festival is the UAE’s leading celebration of arts and culture. Launched in 2004, it continues to attract the highest calibre of artists to the UAE capital every year. The Festival has secured its place as the Arabian Gulf’s largest cultural event and has established partnerships with some of the world’s most influential cultural institutions including the Institut du Monde Arabe, Institut Francais, Edinburgh International Festival, Royal Opera House and Carnegie Hall. In addition to a world-class, multidisciplinary programme at Emirates Palace, the Festival’s educational and community programmes bring together artists, students, community groups and cultural organisations from across the UAE. The Abu Dhabi Festival actively supports emerging Emirati talent and advocates the importance of arts and culture in all aspects of life in the UAE.

For more information please visit our website at:



The Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation seeks to nurture the arts, education, culture and creativity for the benefit of society and the advancement of Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision. The Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation.  It was established in 1996 by Her Excellency Huda Ebrahim Alkhamis. ADMAF’s broad range of initiatives – including the Abu Dhabi Festival, year-round education and community programmes and The Nationals’ Gallery – brings together audiences of all ages and nationalities. Through them, it nurtures the creative talent of the UAE and beyond, in partnership with leading national and international institutions.

For more information please visit our website at:

About Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi

Established in 1996, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is committed to protecting and enhancing air quality, groundwater as well as the biodiversity of our desert and marine ecosystem. By partnering with other government entities, the private sector, NGOs and global environmental agencies, we embrace international best practice, innovation and hard work to institute effective policy measures.

For nearly 20 years, EAD has carried out comprehensive research and studies to understand biodiversity, monitor ecosystems and species, and predict future risks. It is this compounded knowledge that has informed the development of our strategy. It has also been working to develop, implement and enhance the policies and legal frameworks required to maintain and protect wildlife and marine biodiversity and have judiciously implemented these.

During recent years, Abu Dhabi Emirate’s environmental vision has greatly evolved.  EAD has led the development of the Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030. The Agency has also been instrumental in developing the Abu Dhabi Plan, which sets the vision for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, its economic and societal development and ensuring that sustainability plays a key role.

EAD is the lead entity for three key programmes within the plan: the improvement of marine water quality and of air quality, the reduction of climate change impact and the conservation of biodiversity. We are also the support entity on nine others programmes including waste and groundwater that are directly linked to our mandate.