Abu Dhabi, UAE: In line with its legacy of championing culture in all its forms, the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) paid tribute to the outstanding achievements of the Barenboim-Said Akademie and the late Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi with the 2019 Abu Dhabi Festival Award, in association with Chopard.

The esteemed awards were presented by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Tolerance, in the presence of H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival. The first recipient was Mrs Mariam Said, Vice President of the Barenboim-Said Foundation and wife of the late founder of the organisation and Palestinian-American literary critic and public intellectual, Edward W. Said, in recognition of the organisation’s undeterred commitment to building bridges of peace, tolerance and co-existence across the Middle East. The award was also presented to Dr. Hamed Bin Mohamed Khalifa Al Suwaidi on behalf of the late Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, recognising the renowned poet’s exceptional contributions to the UAE’s literature landscape and reviving an interest in the Emirati vernacular and poetic expression.

The award ceremony was also attended by H.E. Issam Masalah, Ambassador of Palestine to the UAE; and H.E. Bernardino León, Director General of the Emirates Diplomatic Academy (EDA) and various other dignitaries and notable personalities.

H.E. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, Founder of ADMAF and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, said: “The Abu Dhabi Festival Award reflects Abu Dhabi’s cultural vision, recognising and rewarding excellence in the arts and cultural landscape, contributing to the UAE as a global capital of culture, enriching its position on the world stage.

“This award celebrates the legacy of the late Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, the Emirati poet who was highly influential on the nation’s culture, and who left a vitally important mark on Arab literature – an inspirational woman we cannot forget.”

She added: “The Festival also awards Barenboim-Said Akademie for its positive impact through building the bridges between nations, enriching cultural dialogue and seeking peace through investing in the youth and teaching music, a perfect example of which is the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra. Abu Dhabi Festival shares, with the Akademie, creative ideas and concepts – we connect people through arts and music to increase cross-cultural dialogue, understanding and tolerance.”  

The Abu Dhabi Festival Award recognises and celebrates the Barenboim-Said Akademie’s laudable work in fostering cultural diplomacy and dialogue through the medium of music and culture. Established in 2015, the organization is a robust continuation of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (WEDO), a youth ensemble dedicated to uniting young Arab musicians from countries across the Middle East and Europe. Barenboim-Said builds on this commitment to empower and inspire a new generation of musicians by cultivating an environment where musical education is enriched by knowledge of the Humanities.

Upon receiving the award, Mrs Said commented: “Culture – the arts, music, traditions, and customs that define and unite our humanistic spirits – is a phenomenon that can reveal hidden doors to universal discovery, or suppress our instinct to share our collective humanity. Culture can serve to build vital bridges, or erect needless barriers. For those deeply and virtuously committed to the arts, creating opportunities in which the potential of culture – especially music – is unleashed to promote human understanding, coexistence, and excellence is our joyous obligation.”

Also awarded was the late Ousha bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, in honour of the great poet’s literary wisdom and poetic creativity that enriched the Emirati literature landscape. Her mastery of the Nabati verse, a form of vernacular poetry, and her prolific writing that dealt with national and pan-Arab issues earned her the title of ‘Fatat Al Arab’ (Girl of the Arabs) as an influential and inspirational pillar of Arab culture. Al Suwaidi actively engaged in poetry contests with some of the UAE’s greatest poets, including the late H.H. Sheikh Zayed, and H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Dr. Hamed Bin Mohamed Khalifa Al Suwaidi, said: “Our Mother Ousha Bint Khalifa Al Suwaidi, (Fatat Al Arab), is a wonderful example of an authentic Arab woman. Raised in a home that encouraged high morals, discipline and knowledge she grew to be a highly recognized and respected Laurette we are proud to treasure for generations to come.”

Running until 30 March 2019, Abu Dhabi Festival will continue to bring a line-up of globally renowned artists to the capital, including an astonishing performance of Sombras by Sara Baras, the world’s most famous flamenco artist on 21 March. The Festival will conclude with two exceptional renditions of George Balanchine’s masterpiece, Jewels, by The Paris Opera Ballet on 29 and 30 March.

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 more information on schedules, venues and performances please visit the Festival website www.abudhabifestival.ae. Abu Dhabi Festival can also be followed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Abu Dhabi Festival 2019 Ticket Information

Tickets will be available to purchase at: https://www.800tickets.com/abudhabifestival  

Students receive 50% discount by using the code STU50 (ID required).



Sara Baras (21 March 2019)

Diamond (AED 350); Gold (AED 250); Silver (AED 175)

The Paris Opera Ballet (29, 30 March 2019)

Diamond (AED 350); Gold (AED 250); Silver (AED 175)

About Abu Dhabi Festival

Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister for Tolerance

Founded in 2004, the Abu Dhabi Festival was held initially under the patronage of the then Minister of Information and Culture (and now Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation) H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This was followed from 2007 to 2011 with the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Today, the Festival is held under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister for Tolerance.

The Abu Dhabi Festival is now acknowledged to be among the world’s best, successfully positioning Abu Dhabi as a cultural destination and the region’s leading celebration of creativity and the arts. Reflecting the vision of the UAE capital as an international cultural crossroads, the Abu Dhabi Festival is rooted in the principles of the country’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahayan: tolerance, respect and enlightenment. As a thriving metropolis that places art, education and culture to the fore, the Festival plays an intrinsic role by further expanding the boundaries of creativity and innovation through the arts. Through its Headline Programme as well as youth platforms and community initiatives, it permeates the farthest reaches of the UAE, engaging children, young people and adults while providing memorable and meaningful experiences that unite visitors, residents and citizens alike.

Strengthened by a growing network of 30 international partners, each year, the Festival brings audiences together to enjoy unique experiences that testify to our common humanity and the deep bonds we share. Always growing, always innovating, it brings the best of the world to Abu Dhabi and takes the very best of Abu Dhabi to the world.

For more information please visit our website at: www.abudhabifestival.ae

About the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation

Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister for Tolerance

Founded in 1996, ADMAF is one of the oldest, not-for-profit cultural organisations in the Arabian Gulf. Pioneering new artistic practices, it seeks to deepen global cross-cultural dialogue and inspire a renewed interest in the creativity of the UAE and Arab world. Often in partnership with leading national and international institutions, it delivers multidisciplinary initiatives for people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities through the Abu Dhabi Festival, year-round youth platforms and community programmes.

For more information, please visit www.admaf.org

© Press Release 2019

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