HE Mrs Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo
The daughter of a pioneering Saudi businessman and a Syrian mother, Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Raised in a crossroads of cultures, her university studies took her to The American College of Paris, France, where she read French Literature and Art History. There, she frequented the city’s museums, galleries and concert halls. Thus began Hoda’s voyage in art and music.
Returning to the Middle East, Hoda settled in Abu Dhabi. In 1991, she married businessman Mohamed Abdul Latif Kanoo, of the prominent Kanoo family from Bahrain. As their family has grown, so too has their involvement in the arts. Today, Mohamed is a renowned artist, curator and co-owner of Ghaf Gallery, the first independent visual arts space in Abu Dhabi.
Hoda regularly speaks publicly on excellence in leadership and the importance of working women in society, particularly in art and culture. In addition to raising funds for music, arts, culture and creativity, she also spearheads fundraising and awareness initiatives for issues close to her heart. Hoda and Mohamed have three children; Abdul Latif, Noor and Abdul Rahman.
Career and Appointments
Founder - Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), under the Presidency and Patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth & Community Development. (1996 onwards)
Board Member - Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH). Appointed by H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE. (2006 onwards)
Board Member - Advisory Committee, Applied Media Program, Higher Colleges of Technology (Abu Dhabi Women’s College).
Member of the Board of Governors - Al Shohub School.
Member - Alliance Française Committee. (1998-2005)
Head of International Relations - Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation. Appointed by Secretary General, H.E. Ahmed Khalifa Al Suwaidi, Special Representative to H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the late President of the UAE. (1989-1991)
1996 - Established the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), the first non-profit-making organisation in Abu Dhabi dedicated to the advancement of music, education, culture and creativity.
1999 - Following the endowment of The Mohamed & Hoda Kanoo Award for Creativity at Higher Colleges of Technology (Abu Dhabi Women’s College) in 1995, the ADMAF Annual Creativity Awards were launched in the UAE to support national talent in visual and performing arts, literature and film.
2004 - Founded the annual Abu Dhabi Festival and Awards programme, under the patronage of H.H. General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Forces.
2005 - Became the first woman from the GCC to speak at the First World Forum on Music by the UNESCO-affiliated International Music Council, Los Angeles, USA.
2006 - Co-curated ‘The Ottoman Court’ exhibition; unique collection of exquisite works of art from the Dolmabahçe Palace, Turkey, upon its 150th anniversary.
2007- Signed the first MoU on ‘The Establishment of Arts’ between a non-profit-making organisation and key universities in Abu Dhabi, to facilitate creative thinking and development among nationals. This marks the start of a series of successful partnerships with the academic sector.
2007 - Created the biennial International Comic Strip and Cartoon Festival, under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth & Community Development.
2007 - Co-curated the groundbreaking ‘The Languages of the Desert’ exhibition of Gulf contemporary art with the Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany.
2008 - The first guest of honour from the GCC at the Ludwig Van Beethoven Festival in Warsaw, Poland, at the invitation of Association President, Elzbieta Penderecki.
2008 - Conceived the Abu Dhabi Young Media Leaders in partnership with key universities in the UAE.
2009 - Signed a MoU with Zayed Higher Organisation for Humanitarian Care, Special Needs & Minor Affairs to provide greater access to the arts for people with special needs in the UAE.
2009 - The ADMAF partnership network goes global as the foundation engages in co-commissions and co-productions. MoU’s signed with Manchester International Festival in the UK, and New York University - Abu Dhabi.
2010 - Appointed Advisor to the Board of Directors of Ewa’a Shelters for Women & Children - Abu Dhabi.
Awards and Commendations
Orden del Mérito Civil (Medal of Civil Merit) - Award and title of Doña conferred by H. M. King Juan Carlos of Spain (November 2005).
Abu Dhabi Award & The Abu Dhabi Medal - Conferred by H.H. General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Forces (December 2005).
Bundesverdienstkreuz (Cross of the Order of Merit) - Bestowed by Horst Koehler, President of Germany (June 2008).
Women Together Organisation Award - Presented at the fifth Women Together awards ceremony in New York, at the United Nations, to which the NGO is linked (May 2009).
Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Commander, Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity) - Awarded by the President of the Government of Italy (January 2010).
Puccini Festival Foundation Award - Awarded by the President of Italy’s acclaimed Puccini Festival. Previous recipients include José Carreras and Lorin Mazzel (March 2010).
L’Officiel Arab Woman of the Year Award and L’Officiel Inspirational Woman of the Year Award 2010 - Awarded by the Middle East’s leading society magazine for outstanding achievements in music (March 2010).
Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) - Bestowed by Frederic Mitterand, French Minister of Culture (June 2010).
Gloria Artis Award presented in June 2010 by Poland’s Minister of Culture.
Emerging Voice Award presented in December 2011 by the Aspen Institute during the Cultural Stewardship Awards held at the Royal Opera House Muscat.