Media Centre

Press release

Mr Mohamed Abdul Latif Kanoo, Mr Thierry Van Calster, H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mabarak Al Nahyan, H.E Mrs Hoda al Khamis Kanoo, H.E. Belgium Ambassador to the UAE Mrs Anick Van Calster 24th Jun 2012

Belgium presents ADMAF Founder award for work promoting arts and education

Belgium’s Ambassador to the UAE, H.E. Mrs Anick Van Calster, last week awarded her government’s prestigious Officer of the Order of The Crown medal to H.E. Mrs Hoda al Khamis Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) at a private reception at the Ambassador’s residence attended by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan bin Mabarak al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and President and Patron of ADMAF.

Speaking during the presentation Mrs Van Calster exemplified Mrs Kanoo’s contribution to the arts in the region. “Mrs. Hoda Al-Khamis Kanoo has played a very important role in spreading culture in Abu Dhabi and the U.A.E. She has done this by bringing top-performers and ensembles from around the world not only to posh auditoria, but also to schools, hospitals, and care centers. It is this constant search for quality and spreading it that we want to honor.  We are proud of the partnerships which have been established in the last few years with some prestigious Belgian institution who share the same vision.”

On accepting the award Mrs Kanoo said. “I am deeply honoured to accept this award on behalf of ADMAF. Our relationship with the Belgian Embassy, here in Abu Dhabi, and our relationships with Belgium’s key arts institutions, though the Abu Dhabi Festival has always been very strong and fruitful, I hope this will continue for many years to come.”

The medal, which dates back to 1897, is presented to individuals who have achieved merit in the fields of science and the arts as well as outstanding services towards their country.

HE Mrs Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo – Founder, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation

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, where she read French Literature and Art History. 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.

Hoda regularly speaks publicly on excellence in leadership and the importance of working women in society, particularly in art and culture. In 2005 Hoda 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.

As well as leading the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation Hoda is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival and annual arts and music celebration that aims at broadening cultural understanding globally while inculcating a renewed passion and interest in  the local arts heritage of the Emirates.

In addition to raising funds for music, arts, culture and creativity, she also spearheads fundraising and awareness initiatives for issues close to her heart. A considerable percentage of the proceeds from the 2011 Abu Dhabi Festival were donated to the Ewa’a Shelters for Women and Children (a Abu Dhabi-based organization that supports victims of domestic abuse).

Hoda is a tireless supporter of women in the arts and is committed towards highlighting the vital roles women play in the UAE and the wider region. She is the recipient of numerous awards including in 2009 the Women Together Organisation Award - Presented at the fifth Women Together awards ceremony in New York, at the United Nations, the Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) - Bestowed by Frederic Mitterand, French Minister of Culture in 2010 and more recently the Emerging Voice Award presented in December 2011 by the Aspen Institute during the Cultural Stewardship Awards held at the Royal Opera House Muscat.

Career and Appointments
Founder - Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), under the Presidency and Patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research. (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)

Achievements
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 Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research.

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.

Cultural personality of the year, United Arab Emirates University, Al Ain. 2012