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Press release

Participation in multiple initiatives aims to strengthen cross-cultural dialogue and understanding of Arab culture

Shubbak 7th Jul 2015

Abu Dhabi Festival supports Arab creativity at Shubbak Festival, London’s biennial celebration of contemporary Arab culture

Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF), organized by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, will be supporting a series of music and arts initiatives during Shubbak festival, London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab culture (11 – 26 July). Held at multiple locations across London, Shubbak has become a highpoint in the arts calendar of the UK and the Arab world, engaging London audiences with an ambitious programme of visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature and debate.

As part of its mission to support Arab creativity and nurture cross-cultural dialogue and understanding, ADF will support two music concerts on 11 July in cooperation with the Foundation for Arab Music Archiving & Research (AMAR), along with a 10-day visual art installation by Khalid Shafar in partnership with Dubai Design District (d3) between 16 – 26 July. 

H.E. Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, said: “Over the years, Abu Dhabi Festival has been collaborating with numerous UK cultural organisations. By enabling dialogue and exchange between the UAE and UK, we have been able to share the wealth of artistic expression that each country has to offer. We are delighted to highlight the region’s creativity this summer, and jointly celebrate Arab culture through our participation in Shubbak.”

Omar Al Qattan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Shubbak comments: “This is a wonderful opportunity for collaboration between the two festivals, both of which have exciting international ambitions and can only lead to greater exposure and opportunity for the artists involved.”

The first concert on July 11, entitled Homage to Sami Al Shawa, commemorates the 50th anniversary of the famous Arab violinist, Sami Al Shawa’s death. Audiences are invited to join members of The Asil Ensemble and acclaimed violinist, Ahmed Al Salhi, as they perform some of Sami Al Shawa’s most renowned works.

The second concert on July 11 entitled Burda: Asil Ensemble & Karima Skalli, will see the Moroccan singer Karima Skalli, and The Asil Ensemble perform a series of classical Burdas – famous song-cycles, which combine poetry and music. Highlights will include a new composition by oud virtuoso, Mustafa Said, to words by contemporary Palestinian poet, Tamim Barghouti, along with a performance of a well-known classical Burda with words from the 12th century poems of Al Busari and the famous Nahj El Burda of Umm Kulthoum. The concert is presented with the additional support of the British Council, the Embassy of the Kingdom of Morocco, UK, and the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture (AFAC).

Kamal Kassar, Director of Arab Music Archiving & Research comments: “Over the past two years, Abu Dhabi Festival has fostered our foundation and supported our production, giving a new drive to our artistic and educational activities. This year, our mutual cooperation will be crowned by two special performances in London during Shubbak Festival, which reinforces our objective of spreading Arab musical heritage, so it can be enjoyed for many generations to come.”

Supporting the visual arts element of Shubbak Festival, Abu Dhabi Festival presents Khalid Shafar – The Nomad, in partnership with the Dubai Design District (d3). On public display at the iconic Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground, Chelsea College, between 16 – 26 July, renowned Emirati designer Khalid Shafar’s outdoor work functions as both a social space and a cultural installation for the people of London to enjoy.  He said, “I have exhibited in most major European cities but with my own product designs. This is my first international platform for an interactive design - my first public space installation. It’s very prestigious to have the premiere of The Nomad in a city like London and in a relevant context such as Shubbak.

The concept of The Nomad brings historical architecture and the traditional material of arish (palm fronds), rethinking it into a format for the 21st century – a ‘reappropriation’ as it were.”

By participating in Shubbak Festival, ADF aims to further strengthen its cultural ties with the UK to enable greater dialogue and exchange, and in turn bring the best of British artistic expression to the UAE. In 2012, the UK was celebrated as ADF’s ‘Country of Honour’, welcoming its guest of honour, Sir Vernon Ellis. In 2013, H.E. Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

For more information on Shubbak Festival, please visit:



Shubbak (meaning window in Arabic)
is London’s largest biennial festival of contemporary Arab Culture. It connects London's audiences and communities with the best of contemporary Arab culture through an ambitious festival programme of premieres and commissions of visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature, architecture and debate.The festival is chaired by Omar Al-Qattan, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, A.M.Qattan Foundation; Eckhard Thiemann, Artistic Director and Daniel Gorman, Festival Director.

AMAR is a Lebanese foundation committed to the preservation and dissemination of traditional Arab music. AMAR owns one of the most complete and large collections of recordings that go back to 1895. The objectives of AMAR are:

  • The conservation of recorded and printed Arab musical tradition by utilizing state-of-the-art technologies;
  • The support of academic research and scientific documentation;
  • The integration of these musical traditions and their practices in educational programs;
  • Seeking multi-media dissemination and promotion of public awareness of the Arab music tradition. In this perspective AMAR is releasing yearly CDs sets (with the support of Abu Dhabi Festival since November 2013), and also broadcasting a weekly podcast (with the support of Sharjah Art Foundation). AMAR is also sponsoring live traditional Arab music groups endeavoring to promote the practice of our Classical music.