|11 December, 2019

Inaugural Al Hosn Festival kicks off tomorrow in a captivating celebration of Abu Dhabi's culture

Al Hosn Festival welcomes visitors from 12 -19 December, exploring Abu Dhabi's cultural heritage and creative cultural scene through art, design, culinary experiences, and performance

Al Zahra Al Mobdeah

Al Zahra Al Mobdeah

  • Multi-dimensional experiences include immersive art installations, musical performances and historical re-enactments across the full Al Hosn site
  • Traditional and contemporary displays at pop-up retail, art and culinary pavilions

Abu Dhabi:  Tomorrow, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi will inaugurate the first edition of Al Hosn Festival, open to the public until 19 December. Spread throughout Al Hosn’s multiple components – including Qasr Al Hosn, House of Artisans, the Cultural Foundation and outdoor areas – the festival is an eight-day celebration of the emirate’s heritage and creative spirit, offering a robust daily programme of art, design, cuisine, performance and more.

An immersive event that celebrates Abu Dhabi’s cultural evolution, the ultimate goal of Al Hosn festival is to foster a sense of pride and belonging by showcasing the full spectrum of the emirate’s diverse culture. Interactive experiences across the various spaces of the Al Hosn site paint a vivid picture of Abu Dhabi and its people. From rich history and heritage, to the contemporary cross-cultural exchange depicted within the art installations, interactive workshops and performances, all facets of Emirati creativity are represented.

Al Hosn Festival highlights include The Living Museum within Qasr Al Hosn, with live actors depicting the daily life of times gone by; The Living Heritage Souq, with stall-keepers producing and selling traditional goods, including perfumes, spices and clothing; the Emirati Culinary Challenge with chefs whipping up traditional and contemporary Emirati dishes; and a pop-up retail market highlighting creative and international brands, set to the backdrop of jazz, folk and blues music performed by live buskers. Cultural Foundation will kick off the performing arts element of the festival tomorrow evening with an electric performance by Arabic rock band Jadal.

HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said, “Al Hosn Festival is an exciting new addition to Abu Dhabi’s yearly cultural calendar, reflecting the story of the exceptional cultural transformation that the emirate has undergone. From the original settlement established within the protective walls of Qasr Al Hosn, to the modern, global metropolis that is Abu Dhabi today, we are a society that has undergone a distinct transition from past to prosperous present. Spanning the historic Qasr Al Hosn Fort and National Consultative Council building, the modernity of the newly renovated Cultural Foundation, and the beautiful oasis in between, the Al Hosn site represents a place of memory but also new possibilities. It is an open community space where knowledge exchange and creative experimentation may flourish; where new capabilities meet all elements of the thriving cultural scene in the Emirati capital. Through the Al Hosn Festival we honour our cultural journey, and the cutting-edge creative path that Abu Dhabi continues to forge.” 

Qasr Al Hosn’s The Living Museum invites visitors to experience traditional life within the historic fort’s walls. In 15 traditional scenes, actors depict the welcoming of delegates, the art of falconry, children playing in the palace, and wedding ceremonies, among other important cultural traditions. Visitors can also hear stories about the palace’s original inhabitants. Outside of the walls, artisans demonstrate their skills in Al Sadu, Henna and many other traditional cultural practices, while the scents, colours and textures of Abu Dhabi’s traditional products fill The Living Heritage Souq. Guided tours and traditional performances form a backdrop to the scenes of traditional life, while the temporary exhibition on classic cars, Al Ruhool, explores the evolution of transportation in Abu Dhabi through the years.

Traditional and artisanal techniques such as weaving are on display throughout the week at the House of Artisans. Visitors are encouraged to create their own bookmarks, learn to spin raw wool and try traditional doll-making through the basics of Al Sadu weaving. Al Hosn Festival also highlights Emirati artistry and culinary excellence through an Artisan Handicrafts Competition, the Product Innovation Competition and the Emirati Culinary Challenge. Visitors can also enjoy the smell, taste and experience of making and serving traditional Gahwa (Arabic coffee) in an homage to traditional Emirati hospitality and generosity at Bait Al Gahwa.

Immersive art takes centre stage during Al Hosn Festival, depicting the transition from Abu Dhabi’s traditional past to contemporary present. New artist commissions will transform and complement the Al Hosn landscape, featuring works by Emirati artist Mohammed Kazem, Korean artist Jeongmoon Choi and the creative collective XPOZE. Exhibitions within the Cultural Foundation include Najat Makki: Luminescence, highlighting Makki’s experimental and open approach to various geographical and historic influences. The Tribute: A Dedication to Najat Makki features the work of 19 Emirati artists who have been influenced by Makki and her dedication to the arts in the UAE.

Performances in the Cultural Foundation Theatre include Argentinian dance company Che Malambo (13 and 14 December), presenting an inspiring performance of percussive dance and music. The Japanese art group Maywa Denki (15 December) will also take to the stage for an alternative yet provoking ‘product demonstration’ of original musical instruments. 

Iftah Ya Simsim (13 and 14 December) will focus on Arabic learning content for young children. The show models important skills such as self-discipline and independence, and core social values such as sharing, caring, understanding and respecting others.

The Sneaker Station at House of Artisans will spotlight footwear innovation, with top regional sneaker designer Bespoke dxb providing hands-on experiences for the public. These include introductory workshops to designing and customising sneakers, and the opportunity to customise shoes on the spot, using 100% handmade Emirati materials.

The festival will also feature sessions with Dominic Chambrone, the craftsman known as “The Shoe Surgeon”. He will reveal a new pair of shoes he designed that combine his unique modern techniques interwoven with aspects of traditional Emirati crafts. Visitors can participate in two workshops with The Shoe Surgeon himself, learning how to craft shoes using a variety of traditional materials and techniques including local camel leather and Al Sadu and Talli material.

Showcasing local and international designers, the festival’s pop-up retail market displays products spanning art, literature, fashion and jewellery. Visitors are invited to browse goods from esteemed brands including Local and Frame, Taschen, and AlJoud Lootah, while enjoying a mix of classical and contemporary music by live buskers. 

Al Hosn is the original urban block of the city and comprises the historic Qasr Al Hosn Fort, the Cultural Foundation, the National Consultative Council building and the House of Artisans. Al Hosn is emblematic of the proud cultural heritage of the UAE, bringing to life the rich fabric of its history, people and traditions and highlighting the city’s future ambition.

Entry fees to the Al Hosn Festival are 15 AED for children aged 5 to 12 and 30 AED for adults.

Passes for all eight days of the Festival are available for 50 AED for children aged 5 to 12 and 100 AED for adults.

For more information, and to purchase tickets for the Al Hosn Festival, visit: https://alhosn.ae/


For press enquiries, please contact:

Sana Yamlikha
Brunswick Arts
Tel: +971 50 554 7349
E: ALHOSN@brunswickgroup.com


The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction, which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The organisation manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum, and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. DCT Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage.  A key role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close coordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.

© Press Release 2019

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