What do Quincy Jones and Badr Jafar have in common?
Emirati entrepreneur Badr Jafar, CEO of Crescent Enterprises, and legendary music producer and jazz artist Quincy Jones, have been honoured by the John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts for their work to bridge cultures through music and theatre.
Jafar and Jones had jointly established the music production company Global Gumbo Group (G3), to promote and showcase the musical talent of Middle Eastern artists. Through its first major venture in 2011, G3 released the Arabic charity single Tomorrow/Bokra featuring 24 artists from 16 Arab countries, debuting at number one and remaining at the top of the Virgin International & Arab Music Charts for five consecutive weeks.
The two received the prestigious Kennedy Centre International Committee on the Arts’ Gold Medal in the Arts at a ceremony held in Dubai, an honour which they hope will draw attention to the power of “cultural diplomacy” to build closer ties between nations.
“The arts provide a common language and possess the unique ability to transcend borders, promote cultural understanding and change attitudes,” said Jafar. “It is my hope to not only foster regional talent, but spread it internationally, addressing our society’s needs and connecting cultures on a unique and rewarding level,” he said.
Jafar said: “UAE government has been a phenomenal supporter of arts and culture, and with the Emirate of Sharjah this year being nominated the Islamic Cultural Capital, the Emirate of Dubai hosting the World Expo in six years’ time, and world-class new arts museums opening in Abu Dhabi in the next few years, I am extremely excited by what the future holds for the cultural economy of the country and the region.”
Quincy Jones said: “I’m a vocal proponent of music and arts that are a great asset in building bridges between people and cultures. It’s my true belief that the arts and arts education are important components for building the foundations for a better tomorrow. The arts are food for the soul.”
Last year G3, in collaboration with the Government of Dubai’s World Trade Centre, staged Dubai Music Week, the Middle East’s first music industry convention, attracting more than 35,000 attendees. The schedule for Dubai Music Week 2014 is expected to be announced this week.
Jafar is also actively involved in the development of theatre in the region, and founded the non-profit Middle East Theatre Academy (META) in 2011 in collaboration with multiple Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey and the Kevin Spacey Foundation. He has also been appointed member of the Guggenheim Middle Eastern Circle and the Artistic Director’s Circle of the Old Vic Theatre Trust.