The WOMAD Abu Dhabi Festival 2011, which is being organised for the third consecutive year by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), was launched today Monday, 04 April 2011 at the Intercontinental Hotel Abu Dhabi, during a press conference. The launch of the event was attended by Abdullah Al-Ameri, Director of Culture and Arts, ADACH; Chris Smith, Director of WOMAD; the Dhol Foundation band, which opened the press conference with a special performance; and several representatives of local and international media.
The festival is set to host a selection of international artists at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi from 7-9 April and at the Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain from 7-8 April.
Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage has expressed great pride with the return of the creative shows by musical talents through the festival, which will feature amazing performances by artists from around the world, in addition to a variety of family-oriented activities and creative workshops.
Abdullah Al Ameri, Director of Arts and Culture Department at ADACH, said: “For the past three years the WOMAD Abu Dhabi Festival has been renowned as one of the largest and most popular festivals, which clearly demonstrates the ability of ADACH to host such a high-profile international event. This year we are once again bringing to Abu Dhabi renowned artists from different countries such as France, Senegal and India to headline a series of live performances. The third edition of the festival will host 35 famous artists and international musicians who will be presenting their visual and musical creations in two different places over three days from April 7 to 9. The launch of the third edition of the festival serves as one of the high points of our continuing efforts to cultivate the public’s interest in the arts. It is our goal to make this event a universal platform to celebrate music and other forms of art and to support artists by providing a venue for them to build relations and share their talents among arts aficionados in Abu Dhabi.”
Al Ameri added: “WOMAD Abu Dhabi has been successful in promoting in the Arab World the musical creations of international artists, which has helped cultivate interaction and dialogue between different cultures and nationalities. The upcoming performances will be a deeply enriching musical experience that transcends the nationalities and cultural background of the musicians and artists. The audience will therefore have a truly distinct musical experience that allows them to know more about the performing artists, while giving them a chance to learn more about other cultures. The festival also encourages participants to better appreciate the richness and diversity of both Arabic and western cultures. In particular, the festival will provide insights into the Emirati culture through the performances of the Tarab Al Emarat musical group.”
“The activities during the three-day festival will be a tribute to artistic and cultural pluralism as we all enjoy the compelling beats of the world’s most acclaimed performing artists along with the special musical shows that specifically cater to children participating in the WOMAD Abu Dhabi workshops. Ultimately, the WOMAD festival would not be complete unless all participants will be able to enjoy its infectious beats and exciting events. We therefore guarantee that WOMAD’s featured artists will go out in full force to entertain all visitors. Moreover, the festival will not only feature hours of musical presentations and informative workshops about singing, dancing and playing instruments; it will also bring to Abu Dhabi some of the best gourmet dishes of different countries during the Taste The World segment of the festival,” Al Ameri concluded.
Chris Smith, WOMAD Director, said: "We are delighted to confirm the attendance of some of the most influential names in a diverse range of musical and artistic genres, reaffirming the reputation of WOMAD Abu Dhabi as the festival of festivals in the UAE. Moreover, the festival will feature other exciting activities that include adult and children's workshops and live cooking demonstrations, making WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2011 the place to be for people of all ages and interests."
The opening acts on Thursday will feature British singer-songwriter and actress Paloma Faith, celebrated Senegalese master-musician Baaba Maal and the visual extraordinaire The Manganiyar Seduction by Roysten Abel from India, who will all be performing at the Corniche. Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté and UAE’s own Tarab Al Emarat are amongst those headlining the opening night at Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain.
Evening performances at the Corniche will also be top-billed by Jamaican ska and reggae legend Dr Jimmy Cliff, who is the only living musician to hold the ‘Order of Merit’, the highest honour that can be granted by the Jamaican government for achievement in arts and sciences, and the Afro Celt Sound System, which is recognised as one of the world's most innovative musical groups.
Other artists performing at the Corniche are Khaira Alby (Mali), LA-33 (Colombia), Orchestre National de Barbes (France), Toumani Diabaté (Mali), Aurelio (Honduras), Omar Bashir (Hungary/Iraq) and Terem Quartet (Russia).
The Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain will also feature performances by Sain Zahoor the spiritual minstrels of Pakistan, The Dhol Foundation (UK/India), Hindi Zahra (France/Morocco), El Tanbura (Egypt), Muntu Valdo (Cameroon), Aurelio (Honduras), Khaira Arby (Mali), and Khyam Allami & Andrea Piccioni (Iraq/UK/Italy).
In addition to the nightly performances headlined by international artists, WOMAD Abu Dhabi will be hosting workshops for children and adults, which will provide exclusive insights into the different cultural influences, musical inspirations and the stories behind the music of leading artists.
Taste the World will return to WOMAD Abu Dhabi 2011. Artists will be showing off their culinary skills as they cook their favourite dishes from their country of origin. Expect spontaneous musical performances, stories behind the food they’re preparing and the cultures they come from, Q&A sessions and an opportunity to sample a variety of featured dishes.
Meanwhile, artists from Egypt, Cameroon, South Africa, Jamaica, India, Guinea, Australia and UK are currently taking part in WOMAD Beyond, which features a series of creative workshops in the lead-up to the festival. Artists share their music and visual arts with students during the outreach program in schools, colleges and universities in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.