Hakawati traditions showcased at Abu Dhabi Festival 2010

Published April 11th, 2010 - 07:55 GMT

Eager audiences in Abu Dhabi and Fujairah had another opportunity to experience the inspirational oral storytelling techniques of Hakawati performer Ahmed Yousef this weekend, with rescheduled performances as part of Abu Dhabi Festival 2010, organised by the Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation. 
The events, which had been cancelled as part of the national mourning period , were rescheduled based on unprecedented demand, with more than one thousand people turning up to the three performances held in Sharjah, Umm Al Quwain and Ras Al Khaimah.  A central part of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2010, the Hakawati tour sought to revive the practice of storytelling, a tradition rooted in the region’s cultural heritage. .
Held in Abu Dhabi on Friday April 9 and in Fujairah on Saturday April 10, the final Hakawati performances  saw  large crowds hearing stories from the 1001 Nights, in which the lady Shahrazad protects herself from the evil king Shahrayar by telling him stories on 1000 consecutive nights.  The performances at the Abu Dhabi Festival 2010 Hakawati events were taken from these stories and also included the famous tale of the ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ by Hans Christian Andersen.
Hakawati performances are based on traditional Arabic storytelling techniques, generally performed in the open air in public, telling fabulous tales, often with moral twists.  Loved by children and adults alike, Ahmed Yousef is one of the best-known Hakawatis (storytellers) working today.  He is performing as part of the Abu Dhabi Festival 2010’s community program, which extends the benefit of this world-class festival throughout the UAE’s communities, by reaching out to community groups within the UAE and providing a platform for the advancement of young national artists and traditional cultural practices alike.
The Festival’s community program this year featured  diverse events, including musical performances, storytelling, photography, film, workshops and community cultural groups across the seven Emirates. These events helped establish partnerships with local community organizations as a reflection of the Festival’s commitment to embedding the arts in the UAE and celebrating the spirit of “Bilad Al Khayr”, “The Land of Blessings”, through grassroots involvement in music, arts and culture.

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