Manarat Al Saadiyat, the expansive art and cultural center which illuminates creativity in Abu Dhabi, hosts the 15th Abu Dhabi Festival from 2 February through 17 March. This event honors the 100th anniversary of the birth of Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of UAE. The exhibits, programs, tours, and presentations, Sheikh Zayed’s commitment to fostering the human spirit in arts and culture is promoted. This year, more than 70 artists are featured, encompassing 90 years of contemporary art from MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) and local museums, and the show exemplifies the attitude of appreciation and encouragement for artists worldwide.

Who’s Who in UAE Art

Leaders of art and culture in the area: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahaya, Minister of Tolerance, H.E. Antonio Alvarez Barthe, Spanish Ambassador to UAE and H.E. Huda Aklhamis-Kanoo, the founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and founder and artistic director of the Abu Dhabi Festival, shared their visions of artistic dialogue and the use of art to bring cultures and socieities together in a universal experience.

Exhibition Features

The outstanding examples of Emirati works featured in the Festival showcase the breadth of contemporary work found in the UAE, and include some of the following artists:

Mohammed Kazem: Scale (2012). This Dubai-based artist creates works in video, photography, and performance. He participates in the Annual Exchibitions of the Emirates Fine Arts Society.

Farah Al Qasimi: It’s Not Easy Being Seen 2 (2016). Musician and artist Al Qasimi has exhibited works in several locations in the UAE.

Layla Juma: Settlement (2017). Using geometric shapes, Juma employs her professional training as an architectural engineer to create sequences in her multi-disciplinary works.

Alia Lootah: 300 (2017). Emirati Lootah is well-trained to take her place among outstanding artists and curators in Abu Dhabi, fulfilling her dream and education in fine art. She is also an assistant curator at the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Mattar Bin Lahej: Rhapsody of Culture (2013). This Dubai-born painter, photographer, and sculptor founded the first artist-run gallery in the UAE. His unique style of brush use makes this self-taught artist a unique champion for Emirati artists.

The Venue—Manarat Al Saadiyat

Translated as “place of enlightenment,” this cultural center of Abu Dhabi offers visitors and residents an inspiring site for shows, exhibitions, and workshops. Providing art education for youth and lifelong learning to art lovers of all ages, the heart of Abu Dhabi is a doorway to all the other venues to be enjoyed here, including the Louvre Aby Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.

Championing art in the largest celebration of art and culture in the Middle East, Abu Dhabi is a gem from those seeking to explore the true connection between East and West, and the Abu Dhabi Festival a perfect way to begin a journey across time, genres, and artists.