Inspired by Islam: Al Burda Festival

Abu Dhabi's festival for celebrating Islamic art + culture opens today.

Al Burda Festival is looking toward the future to celebrate Islamic arts and culture.

Opening today at Warehouse421 in Abu Dhabi, Al Burda Festival is poised to  renew the UAE’s commitment to preserving and promoting Islamic art forms and traditions across the globe while encouraging innovation for the future. The one-day festival will bring together international calligraphers, designers, poets and artists to exhibit their works, exchange insights and participate in talks and panel discussions that seek to raise awareness about the values and virtues of Islamic art.

Through a program of talks, performances and exhibitions, the event will gather creative leaders and personalities from around the globe to exchange insights, share ideas and collaborate. The event seeks to engage and inspire younger generations with a deeper connection to their cultural identity while strengthening the position of Islamic culture in the future. Through paying tribute to traditional forms of Islamic art, the Festival will explore how artists transform conventional techniques using innovative materials. By blending the past with the present, the event will extend the boundaries of innovation to renew the appreciation and spirit of Islamic culture.

The event program will also include a ceremony announcing the winners of the 15th edition of Al Burda Award that is poised to draw the participation of renowned Islamic poets, calligraphers and artists from across the globe.

Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi.

Headlining a press conference to announce the festival, Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, said: ‘Al Burda Festival celebrates Islamic art and culture to highlight its aesthetics and reinterpret its pillars in a contemporary context. The event seeks to cement the UAE’s position as a cultural hub and an incubator of creative arts in order to reinforce the country’s contribution towards the preservation of artistic heritage and its sustainability for future generations’.

She added: ‘Al Burda Festival will bring together creative minds to shape the future of Islamic arts through a series of panel discussions, art exhibitions and live shows that initiate dialogue and forge connections among artists from around the world. In addition to encouraging research in the field of Islamic arts, the festival will enable talented and creative professionals with a keen interest in Islamic arts to exchange opinions and perspectives on the best ways of developing collaborative projects that honor the past, embody the present and shape the future’.

Al Kaabi concluded: ‘We are confident that the festival will play a pivotal role in engaging the young generation in ambitious artistic projects that leverage new technologies to redefine Islamic art and culture’.

Speakers will include Dr Henry Kim, Director and CEO of the Aga Khan Museum from Canada, Antonia Carver, Director of Art Jameel from the UAE, Mona Khazindar, Member of the Board of Directors of the General Culture Authority from Saudi Arabia, and Marina Tabassum, winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture from Bangladesh. Among the distinguished international guests set to headline the event are Gabo Arora, filmmaker and co-founder of Tomorrow Never Knows from the USA, Anissa Helou, chef and cookbook author from the UK, and Dr Venetia Porter, Assistant Keeper at the Department of the Middle East at the British Museum in the UK.

Participating art entities will include Bait Al Oud, a UAE-based institute that seeks to restore the role of music as an integral element in the cultural life of the country’s citizens and residents. Among the artists taking center stage will be Cairo Steps, an international jazz / world music crossover ensemble consisting of German and Egyptian musicians, Karim Jabbari, Tunisian calligraphy and light artist, Malid, Tunisian poet whose works draw on the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Wafaa Emad, winner of The Voice Kids from Egypt, and Kuwaiti musician Yousif Yaseen.

The festival has secured partnerships with an eclectic selection of local and international establishments. UAE-based partners will include Alserkal Avenue, Art Jameel, Bait Al Oud, Bayt Al Qindeel, the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi and Warehouse421. International strategic partners include the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture and Misk Art Institute from Saudi Arabia, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture from Canada, Nuqat from Kuwait, The Prince’s Foundation School of Traditional Arts and the University of Cambridge from the UK, and Institut du Monde Arabe from France.


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