Founder - Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation
Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo is a philanthropist dedicated to inspiring and enabling artists to innovate, generations to create, and communities to unite and prosper.
The daughter of a pioneering Saudi businessman and a Syrian mother, Hoda was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Raised in a crossroads of cultures, her university studies took her to The American College of Paris, where she read French Literature and Art History. Returning to the Middle East, Hoda settled in Abu Dhabi. In 1991, she married businessman and noted artist Mohamed Abdul Latif Kanoo, of the prominent Kanoo family from Bahrain. Mohamed and Hoda have three children, Abul Latif, Noor, and Abdul Rahman. As their family has grown, so too has their involvement in the arts.
She began her career at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Foundation, and was later appointed by the President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to the board of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH), where she served until 2012.
As the Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), Hoda has been pioneering arts education and community arts in the UAE for 17 years. In 1996, ADMAF she created the first non-profit-making organisation in Abu Dhabi dedicated to the advancement of education, culture and creativity. Today, ADMAF reaches nearly 40,000 children, young people and adults through its annual programmes.
Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo also founded the Abu Dhabi Festival, an annual event of world-class calibre, of which she is also the Artistic Director. Since 2004, the Festival has sought to broaden cultural understanding globally while inculcating a renewed passion and interest in the arts and heritage of the United Arab Emirates. In 2011, ADMAF received The Aspen Institute Emerging Voice Award for Cultural Stewardship in recognition of its role in fostering the arts in the Middle East.
She is a frequent public speaker on matters relating to the creative and cultural industries. In 2005, she was the first woman from the GCC to speak at the World Forum on Music by the UNESCO-affiliated International Music Council. She was also the first Guest of Honour from the GCC to attend the Ludwig Van Beethoven Festival in Warsaw, Poland. In 2012, she became the first Arab woman to give a plenary speech at the Edinburgh International Culture Summit at the Scottish Parliament.
Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo is a tireless advocate of excellence in leadership, and women in the arts, and is committed to highlighting the vital roles women play in the UAE and the wider region. She is a recipient of numerous awards and commendations including the 2009 Women Together Award (a UN-affiliated NGO), and the 2010 Puccini Festival Foundation Award. She is a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà Italiana (Italy) and Officer of the Order of the Crown (Belgium). She holds the Abu Dhabi Award and Abu Dhabi Medal, the Orden del Mérito Civil of Spain, the Bundesverdienstkreuz of Germany and the Gloria Artis Award of Poland and the Order of the British Empire.
Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo sits on the International Leadership Board of Cleveland Clinic; International Advisory Board of the Edinburgh International Festival; the Applied Media Program Advisory Committee of Higher Colleges of Technology (Abu Dhabi Women’s College); and is also an Advisor to the Board of Directors of Ewa’a Shelters for Women & Children, an Abu Dhabi-based organisation that supports victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking.
In addition to advocating music, arts, culture and creativity, Hoda devotes her spare time to spearheading awareness initiatives for health and welfare issues close to her heart.