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Press release

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan joins the audience for an evening of exceptional melodies with Saudi Arabia’s most revered musician

Mohamed Abdo 16th Mar 2017

Saudi Arabian Superstar Mohamed Abdo, ‘The Artist of the Arabs’ enthrals audiences in opening headline performance of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2017

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, and Patron of ADMAF and the Abu Dhabi Festival, attended the first major performance of the 14th Abu Dhabi Festival last night. Held at Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, the renowned Saudi Arabian musician Mohamed Abdo, a legend and visionary whose significance resounds across the region and internationally, enchanted audiences with renditions of Khareef (Autumn), Aali Assukoot (Loud Silence), Majnounaha (Besotted by Her), Ila Man Yahummuha Amri (To Her Who It May Concern), Abatather (I Would Like to Apologise), Arrasael (The Messages) and Alamakin (The Places) . Ahead of his performance, Mohammed Abdo was presented with the 2017 Abu Dhabi Festival Award by HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan in recognition of his preservation of mawrouth (the inherited songs) and a prolific career spanning more than four decades, with has a particularly storied connection with the UAE – first performing here in the early 1970s at the behest of late Sheikh Zayed.

His Excellency was joined by H.E. Huda Ebrahim Alkhamis, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Artistic Director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, who gathered to celebrate Saudi Arabia as the ‘Country of Honour’ at this year’s Festival. Continuing its legacy of presenting world-renowned stars in the UAE, this year Abu Dhabi Festival celebrates the principals of ‘Culture and Tolerance’ set by the late Sheikh Zayed, Founding Father of the UAE.

Running until 31 March 2016, Abu Dhabi Festival is set to bring a line-up of globally renowned names as part of the headline offering, including US jazz icon, Wynton Marsalis; popular Portuguese fado singer, Mariza; and the multi-national Silk Road Ensemble with Chinese-American cellist, Yo-Yo Ma.

This year, the Festival will highlight the artists and luminaries of Saudi Arabia who have taken their culture to great heights as ADF heralds the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the 2017 ‘Country of Honour’. The outstanding lifetime contributions to arts and culture of the acclaimed Saudi intellectual and poet, HRH Prince Badr Bin Abdul Mohsen Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud will be recognised, together with the eminent intellectual and cultural advocate Dr. Ghassan Salamé through the Abu Dhabi Festival Awards. Other esteemed recipients of the highly-prized Abu Dhabi Festival Award will be Mohamed Abdo, Wynton Marsalis and Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble.

Throughout the Festival, a calendar of free events, exhibitions, performances and workshops for people of all ages to enjoy will take place. Highlights of the 2017 edition include the return of ‘Silent Voices’ under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak; ‘‘Festival in the Park’ at Umm Al Emarat Park under the patronage of H.H. Sheikha Shamsa bint Hamdan Al Nahyan; ‘Riwaq Al Adab wal Kitab’ which sees the release of six new books by Emirati authors; and ‘The Ministry of Science’, among many others.