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In a ceremony presided over by HM King Juan Carlos, the award commemorates ADMAF Founder’s long-standing contribution to UAE–Spain cultural relations

L_R_His Majesty King Juan Carlos, Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nayhan, Minister of Culture & Knowledge Development 27th Nov 2016


His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain has graciously bestowed the Commander of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica) to Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation in recognition of her distinguished services to arts and culture, in recognition of the successful cultural exchange between the Kingdom of Spain and the UAE.


The Order was created on 14 March 1815 by King Ferdinand VII of Spain in honour of Queen Isabella I of Castile is a Spanish civil order granted in recognition of services that benefit the country.  The Order was reorganised by royal decree on 26 July 1847, as the modern ‘Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic’.


The award was presented by H.E. José Eugenio Salaraich, the Spanish Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates in the esteemed presence of His Majesty King Juan Carlos, Father of His Majesty King Felipe VI; His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture & Knowledge Development; and other local dignitaries and family members.


Upon receiving the award, Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, said:

“I wish to express my sincere thanks to His Majesty King Felipe VI of the Kingdom of Spain for this honour and to H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, who has shown us the path of progress and continues to inspire the nation through the values of tolerance, openness and the advancement of women. I am also profoundly grateful to H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who was our very first supporter on this remarkable cultural journey; and to H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation; and to H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, esteemed Patron of Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation.

Since the creation of ADMAF twenty years ago, we have aspired to nourish the cultural bonds between the UAE and other nations because creative dialogue allows us to breathe life into the ties that bind, be they industrial, economic, educational, scientific or cultural.

The Kingdom of Spain and the United Arab Emirates share a strong cultural history – our roots are intertwined and nourish the very identity and soul of our nations. While those shared roots must be protected through the preservation of tradition and heritage, ADMAF also believes in growth, evolution and coexistence and the nurturing of new forms of cross-cultural creative expression that serve to sustain a dynamic environment – a vibrant ecosystem in which artists of both nations may flourish.

I would like to give my heartfelt gratitude for this great honour and I look forward to continue the exchange of arts and ideas for many years to come.” 


H.E. José Eugenio Salaraich, the Spanish Ambassador to the UAE, said:

“I congratulate Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo. This is a great honour from His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain and reflects the important friendship between the Kingdom of Spain and UAE, which she has helped to foster through arts and culture.”


Since its inception in 1996, ADMAF has collaborated with leading Spanish artists and organisations to create cross-cultural projects, performances and residencies that contribute to a deeper understanding of the commonality and diversity of cultures, including the music ensemble Music Antigua and En Dos Palabra; guitar virtuoso, José Maria Gallardo del Rey; operatic legends José Carreras and Plácido Domingo; as well as leading photographers Evru, Miguel Trillo and Miguel Oriola. The momentum continues in March 2017 with the Abu Dhabi Festival debut of the famed Spanish flamenco guitarist, Tomatito, and piano prodigy Juan Pérez Floristán alongside the Foundation’s ongoing strategic partnerships with The Reina Sofía School of Music and Gran Teatre del Liceu. ADMAF looks forward to expanding its network of collaborative relationships in the Kingdom of Spain with other prestigious institutions including The Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA).


The Order of Isabella the Catholic has been awarded to many foreigners. Notable recipients include: Farah Pahlavi, Empress of Iran; Basma bint Talal, Princess of Jordan; Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, Sultan of Oman; and Mstislav Rostropovich, Russian cellist and conductor, among others. This is the second medal of honour to be bestowed upon Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo. In 2005, she received the Medal of Civil Merit conferred by His Majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain.