Media Release

Arab Artists Enthral Audiences Across the Globe as through Abu Dhabi Festival’s International Commissions

International presentations include the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany and Belgium and the world tour of acclaimed opera ‘Kalîla Wa Dimna’

(Abu Dhabi, UAE: 29 March, 2017): Throughout 2017, audiences around the globe will be given an insight into the Arab world’s wealth of creative expression through a series of initiatives made possible by Abu Dhabi Festival. Just as Abu Dhabi Festival brings the world to UAE capital, so too does it take Abu Dhabi to the world. In the spirit of cultural diplomacy, Abu Dhabi Festival has commissioned diverse productions in Europe. Expanding the international presence seen in 2016, this year’s locations include Morocco, Belgium, France and Germany.

On 17th March 2017, the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra (SEPO) performed to an enthralled audience under the baton of Maestro Michael Boder accompanied by Kinan Azmeh in Hamburg, Germany. Performing with the Belgian National Symphony Orchestra in Brussels on the 21st March, the concert featured the acclaimed Syrian soprano Lubana Al Quntar. Abu Dhabi Festival is the first Arab organisation to support the Syrian Expat Philharmonic Orchestra which is comprised of Syrian refugees, expatriates and students residing across Europe.

H.E. Huda Ebrahim Alkhamis, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival said; “Culture is a unifying force that brings people together at a time when mutual understanding is needed most. At ADMAF, our mission to nurture culture and creativity does not exist solely within the seven emirates. Just as the Abu Dhabi Festival brings the world to the UAE capital, so too does it take Abu Dhabi to the world. In 2017, audiences across the globe are experiencing new initiatives made possible by the Abu Dhabi Festival in the spirit of cultural diplomacy.”

The acclaimed opera in Arabic and French, Kalîla Wa Dimna, commissioned by Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the Académie of Aix Festival, co-produced with Opera de Lille and Opera de Dijon, and supported by Abu Dhabi Festival, took to the stage at the Casablanca Festival in Morocco on 24th March as part of its world tour. Composed by Moneim Adwan with libretto by Fady Jomar and Catherine Verlaguet, this pioneering tour is testament to Abu Dhabi Festival’s commitment to providing international platforms for artists of Arab origin. In May 2017, several performances of Kalîla Wa Dimna will take place at Opéra de Dijon in France.

Continuing the array of world-class musical performances supported by Abu Dhabi Festival, Syrian ensemble Trio Hewar (featuring Kinan Azmeh) performed as part of the inaugural season of the extraordinary Pierre Boulez Hall in Berlin, Germany. Hewar’s Dialogue is the first of three concerts commissioned by Abu Dhabi Festival as the first step in a strategic partnership with the Barenboim-Said Foundation. On 28 April, Iraqi musician and oud player Naseer Shamma will present ‘World Without Fear’ and, on 2 May, the Damascus Festival Chamber Players led by clarinetist and composer Kinan Azmeh will perform chamber music by contemporary Arab composers as well as Western classical music.

From 1–6 July, Abu Dhabi Festival will continue its partnership with London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture, Shubbak. This prestigious festival aims to connect London audiences with the best of Arabic arts and culture programs. Shubbak’s partnership with Abu Dhabi Festival will see two projects at this year’s festival, a concert-version of a new chamber music opera by Bushra Al Turk based on the novel ‘Woman at Point Zero’ by Nawal El Saadawi , as well as residencies for four composers of Arab origin in partnership with the Royal Opera and Snape Maltings. Shubbak will also feature a ‘Jazz Night with Tarek Yamani’ where the Lebanese jazz musician will play original compositions, following on from his 2017 Abu Dhabi Festival commission ‘Peninsular – Portraits in Khaleeji Rhythms & Jazz’.

In September 2017, the Portrait of a Nation exhibition that premiered at Abu Dhabi Festival 2016 will be presented during Berlin Art Week.  Featuring 50 works by Emirati artists, Portrait of a Nation brings together the UAE’s leading contemporary arts practitioners to reflect upon their homeland, exploring nation and unity, geography and nature, architecture and urbanism, portraiture and identity, religion and spirituality, language and calligraphy, tradition and heritage.

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.

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Abu Dhabi Festival 2017 Ticket Information

Tickets available to purchase at:

Students receive 50% discount (ID required).

Performance: Emirates Palace Ticket Prices
Mariza in Concert All seats (AED 250); Students receive 50% discount (ID required). Sold out.
The Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma Diamond (AED 350); Pearl (AED 250); Balcony (AED125). Sold out.


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: