Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 11 July 2023: Under the honorary patronage of H.H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and honorary patron of the Abu Dhabi Festival, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation inaugurated its Art at Embassies program with a captivating panel discussion held at the Embassy of UAE in Paris, as part of the festival which is held under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Assistant to the President of the UAE Red Crescent Authority for Women’s Affairs, and Head of Higher Committee for the Ataya Initiative.
The event, titled “The Evolution of the UAE Art Scene,” featured prominent curator Maya El Khalil, editor and writer Melissa Gronlund, and Emirati conceptual artist Maitha Abdalla.
The panellists shed light on the extraordinary 50-year journey of the UAE’s art scene, discussing its growth, transformation, and contribution to the global art landscape. The event was a testament to ADMAF’s commitment to promoting cultural exchange and nurturing artistic talents.
This panel discussion served as a platform for insightful conversations and valuable perspectives, emphasising the importance of cultural diplomacy and cross-cultural dialogue. Attendees had the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the UAE’s vibrant art scene and its profound impact on the international art community.
Her Excellency Hend Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to France, said in her opening speech: “Arts and culture are an essential component of the mission of the UAE Embassy in Paris, and a fertile ground on which our bilateral relationship with France has flourished… they are at the heart of both our societies and therefore constitute a pillar of Franco-Emirati diplomacy. ADMAF could not have chosen a better country than France to launch its program.”
Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, said:
“We are pleased to partner with the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in France to launch the first event of our latest landmark initiative, Art at Embassies. The new initiative reaffirms our commitment to fostering cultural exchange and forging deeper connections between nations and cultures through the power and influence of art. Art at Embassies seeks to strengthen cultural partnerships and cultural diplomacy, opening doors for Emirati artists to showcase their talents on the global stage while challenging perspectives through the exchange of ideas—spreading knowledge to inspire profound change and foster greater understanding among nations.
“We are delighted to inaugurate the initiative in Paris with a panel discussion exploring the incredible evolution of the UAE art scene with curator Maya El Khalil, and writer and editor Melissa Gronlund, who have each played a pivotal role in the success of ADMAF’s historic publications Portrait of a Nation II, and Art of the Emirates II. Joined by gifted Emirati artist Maitha Abdalla, their valuable insights reflect how art enables us to explore the depths of our shared humanity and celebrate the rich diversity of our civilisations, encompassing the very essence of the initiative which seeks to unite people through shared experiences,” Her Excellency added.
During her keynote speech delivered ahead of the panel discussion, Her Excellency touched upon the significance of the initiative which reflects the UAE’s commitment to learn and to listen and its determination to be heard in the international conversation on art and culture.
ADMAF’s history of collaboration with France further strengthened the importance of the event. Over the years, ADMAF has actively fostered cultural ties between the UAE and France through various initiatives and partnerships. In 2016, Abu Dhabi Festival, organised by ADMAF, celebrated France as the Country of Honour with concerts by Orchestre de Paris featuring the cellist Xavier Phillips and organist Thierry Escaich as well as the world premiere of an orchestral concert adaptation of the pillar of French literature, The Little Prince. Notable collaborations include the co-production of ‘Resurrection’ with Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and the co-commission of opera star Joyce DiDonato’s ‘EDEN’ featured stage direction by acclaimed French stage director Marie Lambert-Le Bihan.
Abu Dhabi Festival, has consistently showcased exceptional artistic performances, exhibitions, and fostered dialogue between nations, captivating audiences and promoting cultural diversity. Previous editions of the Festival have celebrated French artists, including renowned ballet dancer Sylvie Guillem, composer Gabriel Yared, and graphic designer Philippe Apeloig.
ADMAF’s commitment to cultural exchange extends beyond the UAE, as demonstrated by its successful international tours. Performances by Tarek Yamani and Moneim Adwan in France have captivated global audiences, highlighting the rich cultural heritage of the UAE and the Middle East.
The panel discussion at the Embassy of UAE in Paris further solidified ADMAF’s dedication to fostering artistic dialogue and nurturing emerging talents. Through its Art at the Embassies program, ADMAF continues to create platforms for cultural exchange, furthering its mission to inspire creativity and celebrate the diverse expressions of art.