Media Centre

Press release

Professional entrepreneurship programme devised by Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and British Council continues to contribute to the rapidly growing UAE creative and cultural industries

CEF 1st May 2017


The second edition of Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and British Council’s joint Cultural Excellence Fellowship (CEF) programme has officially commenced. Part of UK/UAE 2017 a Year of Creative Collaboration led by the British Council, the group of 17 young Emirati and 11 UAE-based cultural professionals have begun an 18-month skills development and mentorship programme that aims to equip the current and future generations of creative entrepreneurs and cultural leaders to make a significant contribution to the shaping of the UAE cultural and creative industries towards 2030.


The first of its kind in the UAE, CEF is co-owned and co-designed by ADMAF and British Council as part of a strategic partnership that was signed by both parties in 2012. The programme brings together Emirati ‘Protégés’, UAE-based ‘Pioneers’ and regional cultural experts to share skills, knowledge and experience through mentoring, cross-discipline exchange and workshops spanning a wide range of subjects including business planning, financial management, marketing, fundraising, audience development and cultural policy.


The group of Emirati ‘Protégés’ consists of exceptional young creatives who have recently entered the employment sector and are seeking to further their careers within the UAE cultural and creative industries. Each Protégé has been allocated a mentor from a pool of UAE-based ‘Pioneers’ – distinguished cultural professionals who are embarking on bespoke professional development plans through CEF. In addition, ‘Pioneers’ and ‘Protégés’ will regularly receive invitations to special events and initiatives by ADMAF and British Council.


Hailing from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Dubai, the Proteges of CEF II are:

Amal Al Ameri

Amna Sakher Saif

Budoor Abdulqader Obaid Ali

Deenah Essayyid Muhammed El Hashemi

Fawzeya Nasser Al Blooshi

Hajer Mubarak Al Madhi

Heba Al Hashemi

Hessa Al Ajmani

Khawla Darwish

Khulood Al Awadi

Nada Obaid Al Taher

Reem Al Atiqi

Reem Al Karbi

Saeed Ahmed Al Zubaidi

Sanaa Amro

Sara Al Haddad

Sherina Abdullah


Hailing from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Pioneers of CEF II are:

Dahlia Mahmoud, Assistant Professor, Zayed University – College of Arts and Creative Enterprises

Elena Ashley Kauffmann, Founder & Director, D2D Art Solutions

Fatima Al Mutawa, Strategic Communications Consultant

Liliana do Nascimento, Director, Salsali Private Museum of Contemporary Art

Mouna Khourchid, Communications Manager, UAE National Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

Nasif Kamel Kayed, Founder, The Arab Culturalist

Paula Perissinotto, Curator & Founder of FILE (Electronic Language International Festival)

Sabeen Saleem, Consultant

Sahar Sharif, adjunct Assistant Professor, New York Institute of Technology

Shayma Halawa, Jewellery Designer, Founder of SHAYMA Exclusive Creations


Discussing the second edition of the Cultural Excellence Fellowship, H.E. Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, said: “The second edition of the Cultural Excellence Fellowship demonstrates ADMAF’s long-term commitment to investing in the country’s creative and cultural industries. Building on the success of the first edition, I look forward to our latest cohort of entrepreneurial Emirati and UAE-based professionals developing their skills, knowledge and ambition over the course of the programme.”


Gavin Anderson, Country Director, British Council-UAE said, “We are thrilled to partner with ADMAF again on the second phase of the Cultural Excellence Fellowship (CEF) programme. I am also proud to announce this year CEF is a part of UK/UAE 2017, a Year of Creative Collaboration. The purpose of UK/UAE 2017 is to celebrate the long-standing relationship between the UK and the UAE, giving it greater focus, depth and contemporary relevance. With inclusivity at its heart, the season aims to make a lasting difference to all the communities it reaches. CEF is a great programme which supports the development of the creative industries in the UAE by providing youth with access to skills, cultural activities and experts to equip and inspire them to pursue careers within the creative industries. It is making a substantial contribution to the development of the next generation in the UAE, and to the UK/UAE 2017 programme.”


The first edition of CEF took place between 2014 and 2016. A total of 23 Emirati and UAE-based professionals graduated after 180 hours of training from 31 trainers from 4 countries and 150 hours of mentoring. Former Protégé, Ahmed Al Anzi (aka The Contemporary Bedouin), now a Cultural Excellence Fellow said, “Sometimes all it takes is a guiding hand and words of encouragement to really kick-start that engine. Through CEF, I was encouraged to make big decisions regarding my career and future in the creative industries. I’ve taken a step towards becoming an emerging designer. I also feel more confident as a member of this growing sector”


The Cultural Excellence Fellowship is part of ADMAF’s Creative Leadership programme which seeks to enable young UAE nationals and residents to develop their skills and prepare for careers in the creative and cultural industries. Other ADMAF training initiatives are Young Media Leaders, Young Filmmakers’ Circle, and UAE Theatre Circle.