Media Release

Emirati artists join UAE Ambassador to Germany to open ADMAF’s landmark exhibition ‘Portrait of a Nation’ at Berlin Art Week 2017


Emirati artists join UAE Ambassador to Germany to open ADMAF’s landmark exhibition ‘Portrait of a Nation’ at Berlin Art Week 2017

Seminal exhibition of UAE contemporary art to run for six weeks in the heart of Germany, accompanied by a dynamic educational programme to celebrate the power of creativity as a catalyst for dialogue and understanding

H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo introduces Portrait of a Nation at Berlin Art Week 2017

Additional high resolution images here

(Abu Dhabi, UAE: 14 September, 2017): As part of its continuing endeavours in the field of international cultural diplomacy, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), last night welcomed over 500 guests to the VIP Preview of Portrait of a Nation at me Collectors Room in the heart of Berlin’s art district. H.E. Abdullah Ali Al Ahmed, UAE Ambassador to Germany and H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, ADMAF Founder, were also joined by 23 featured Emirati artists, who are in the German city on a five-day visit organised by ADMAF to participate in the exhibition education programme and engage with the German cultural sector.


His Excellency Ali Abdullah Al Ahmed, Ambassador of the UAE to Germany expressed his deepest appreciation for the exhibition “Portrait of a Nation” and its Art exhibits. H.E. mentioned that the Arts are an integral part of the cultural heritage and identity of any nation. H.E. also reiterated that the best and most efficient way to communicate with others to forge trust can only be achieved through cultural exchange: an exchange that highlights universal values of humanity, civilization, peace and love.

His Excellency concluded by saying: “Through the Arts and Culture, we express our commitment of spreading peace, love, beauty and the establishment of strong relationships with other cultures. Creativity affirms the sheer aesthetic of the Arts throughout the epochs, and its fundamental role in developing a culture which can only thrive through constant exchange with other cultures. It is a great honour for the exhibition’s first international debut to take place in the German capital Berlin, which shows the exhibition organizers’ sincere appreciation and admiration of the German culture.”

H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and the Abu Dhabi Festival said: “For more than 20 years, ADMAF has been nurturing cultural development across the UAE. In Portrait of a Nation, we welcome visitors to discover the story of our country through the work of over 50 Emirati artists spanning more than half a century and through seven distinct themes. Today more than ever, the arts can bridge division, build understanding and bring people together – enabling us all to explore the similarities and differences that enrich humanity.”

H.E. Goetz Lingenthal, the German Ambassador to the UAE said: “This exhibition echoes the profound relations between Germany and the UAE, which extend beyond the commercial and political levels. In the span of 45 years of diplomatic relations, our countries have developed a rock-solid partnership, strengthened strategically in 2004 as the UAE became Germany’s largest trade partner in the Arab world. On a political level, the dialogue has always been strong with thousands of German nationals living and working in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. And every year, Germany welcomes thousands of Emirati tourists, and sends back to the UAE thousands of German tourists.

Adding a deeper cultural understanding will undeniably build up on this friendship even more, and I am glad to see that culture has become yet another firm pillar in our valuable partnership. Furthermore, our strive to strengthen the growing cultural exchange is clearly anchored in the various activities of Goethe Institute and the German schools in the UAE, in addition to the ongoing cooperation between universities, and just as ambitiously, by this exhibition “Portrait of a Nation”, highlighting the diversity of the Emirati culture”.

In its first staging outside the UAE, the exhibition Portrait of a Nation, which was first presented in Abu Dhabi during the 2016 Abu Dhabi Festival, offers a glimpse into the creative practices of over 50 contemporary artists from the UAE. Three generations are presented; from Hassan Sharif and his atelier students to younger artists. The exhibition presents a variety of mediums: sculpture, photography, land art, painting, textiles, video, scenography, and new takes on traditional crafts. Visitors are invited to explore the country through the individual perspectives of the participating artists who call it home. The exhibition is divided into seven themed rooms: Nation & Unity, Geography & Nature, Architecture & Urbanism, Portraiture & Identity, Religion & Spirituality, Language & Calligraphy, and Tradition & Heritage. Tracing the nation’s growth, the exhibition includes 20 specially commissioned works by emerging and established artists. These new reflections are contextualised by seminal pieces dating back to the birth of the country. The exhibition also features works from The ADMAF Art Collection.



Ebtisam Abdul Aziz, Ali Al Abdan, Zayed Al Absi, Sarah Al Agroobi, Sarah Al Ahbabi, Ahmed

Saeed Al Areef Al Dhaheri, Mohammed Al Astad, Ammar Al Attar, Jassim Al Awadi, Khalid Al

Banna, Amna Al Dabbagh, Shamsa Al Dhaheri, Abdul Aziz Al Fadli, Ahmed Al Faresi, Reem Al

Ghaith, Yousif Al Harmoudi, Eman Al Hashemi, Zeinab Al Hashemi, Khuloud Al Jabri, Saeed

Al Madani, Fatema Al Mazrouie, Mohammed Al Mazrouie, Sheikha Alyazia Bint Nahyan Al

Nahyan, Omran Al Owais, Mohammed Al Qassab, Azza Al Qubaisi, Abdul Qader Al Rais,

Sumaya Al Rais, Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi, Karima Al Shomely, Architecture + Other Things,

Hind Bin Demaithan, Maitha Demithan, Afra Bin Dhaher, Lamya Gargash, Mohammed Ahmed

Ibrahim, Aisha Juma, Layla Juma, Mohammed Kazem, Fatma Lootah, Najat Makki, Lateefa

Bint Maktoum, Mohammed Mandi, Khalid Mezaina, Salama Nasib, Abdul Rahim Salem,

Khalid Shafar, Hassan Sharif, Hussein Sharif, Obaid Suroor, Khalil Abdul Wahid.


Open at me Collectors Room until 29 October, Portrait of a Nation is the second ADMAF exhibition to tour internationally. In 2013-14, Three Generations exhibition of contemporary Emirati art welcomed over 6,000 visitors in London and Ohio. ADMAF’s latest international exhibition also features a full programme of talks, tours, performances and workshops.  Portrait of a Nation is also accompanied by a limited edition publication in Arabic and German.

Educational Programme


13.09., 1-6 pm: ‘Meet the Artists’: Meet over 25 of the featured Emirati artists and listen to their stories in a series of one-on-one conversations


16.09., 4-5 pm: Talk with H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, ADMAF Founder & Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival. Moderated by Nicola Graef.


30.09., 4-7 pm: Film Day ‘UAE on Screen’ with ‘Father’s Grant’ by Ahmed Zain, ‘Nearby Sky’ by

Nujoom Al Ghanem, ‘The Art of Nature’, a project by ADMAF’s Exhibition Cinema Film

accompanying the Abu Dhabi Festival Exhibition 2017.


05.10., 7-8.30 pm: Panel Discussion ‘Emirati Identity, Emirati Creativity’ with featured artists

Zeinab Al Hashemi and Amna Al Dabbagh, as well as the world’s first Emirati spoken word

artist Afra Atiq


19.10., 7-9 pm: Talk & Performance by the artist Karima Al Shomely, who speaks about her

research into the Emirati burqa, followed by a live performance


26.10., 7-8.30 pm: Talk ‘50 Years of Transformation’ with Dr Frauke Heard-Bey, author and

historian, David Heard, petroleum engineer. Moderated by Monika Krauss


Activities for school groups & students


14.09.: Workshop with featured artist Sarah Al Agroobi

14.09.: Presentation with featured artist Saeed Al Madani

15.09.: Workshop with featured artist Azza Al Qubaisi

06.10.: Workshop with featured artist Zeinab Al Hashemi

07.10.: Workshop with featured artist Amna Al Dabbagh

08.10.: Workshop with the first Emirati spoken word artist Afra Atiq

20.10.: Workshop with featured artist Karima Al Shomely






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 Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo. 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.


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