Media Centre

Press release


H.E. Mr. Abdullah Alneaimi, Ambassadorof the United Arab Emirates to UNESCO, Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, and Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO 2nd Jun 2013

ADMAF donates proceeds of Abu Dhabi Festival 2013 to UNESCO’s Malala Fund and signs MOU Partnership

The internationally acclaimed Abu Dhabi Festival, which concluded four weeks of exhibitions, workshops and performances on March 31, upheld ‘Bilad Al Khayr’ (Land of Blessings), the founding spirit of the UAE, yesterday by donating AED 368,000 of its 2013 box office sales to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). In addition, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, the organiser of the annual Abu Dhabi Festival,   signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UNESCO. Whilst the new partnership deepens relations between the two organisations and explores new ways to work together in the future, the proceeds from this year’s festival will support a girls’ education project in Egypt through UNESCO’s Malala Fund for Girls’ Education.


Launched in December 2012, The Malala Fund for Girls’ Education is dedicated to 15-year-old Pakistani school girl Malala Yousafzai, who was the target of an assassination attempt by the Taliban last October because of her defense of the right of girls to go to school. The Fund seeks to stem the dropout of adolescent girls from secondary education, strengthen women’s literacy programmes, and give new momentum to the quest to provide access to school for all girls by 2015. The United Arab Emirates, who sent a medical team and an air ambulance to transfer Malala from Pakistan to the UK where she was treated, has played an active role in supporting this special case and cause from the beginning. Last week, Malala Yousafzai along with her family members visited the UAE and thanked Abu Dhabi Government officials in person for their unvalued efforts.


H.E. Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival, commented on ADMAF’s deepening relationship with UNESCO: “The ore of the Abu Dhabi Festival reflects the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. 'Bilad al Khayr' recognises that with the blessings that come from living in the UAE, there is a responsibility (which is also a privilege) to reach out to those less fortunate. Education is the key to a greater future and we hope that this donation shall enable girls and women to experience a better tomorrow.”


H.E. Al Khamis-Kanoo concluded by saying: “UNESCO represents years of experience and a long-term view of what is needed to effect change. We are proud to support such a worthy cause, but most importantly – through the MOU signing – establish a strategic partner who has the ability to make a difference in bettering the lives of so many, as we look at new ways to collaborate and support one another in the future.”


Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, commented on the recent partnership with ADMAF: "Education and culture are gateways to personal and professional fulfilment, creativity and positive change in our world. This conviction is at the heart of UNESCO’s advocacy and action. With its genuine devotion to nurturing talent, encouraging cultural dialogue and empowering disadvantaged children, youth and adults, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation is a partner of choice for our Organization. I am delighted that we are joining forces today to develop educational and cultural projects that will enrich individuals and communities through access to knowledge and to the transformative power of the arts."


Each year, the Abu Dhabi Festival donates a portion of its box office sales. 2012’s recipients were the Brave Heart Fund, an initiative of the Children’s Heart Centre at the American University of Beirut Medical Centre; and the United Nations World Food Programme.


During her stay in Paris, H.E. Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo was invited to give a speech at ‘Women Leaders in the Arts’ Forum at the American University of Paris. Her Excellency addressed the topics of gender and leadership in the arts, the role of the arts in education, as well as interdisciplinary and cross-cultural exchange and interpenetration in the arts. The audience consisted of alumni and graduates of AUP’s ‘Cultural entrepreneurship, gender and leadership in the Muslim World’ course, a module designed to explore the role of culture and development in the Muslim world and the increasingly important role of women in cultural leadership.


The Abu Dhabi Festival closed on March 31, welcoming a record 29,000 people to its 29 productions and 129 events at 44 venues across the UAE.