over 61,000 visit abu dhabi’s ‘arts of islam’ exhibition - uae capital’s international arts debut earns widespread acclaim

Published May 4th, 2008 - 08:17 GMT

The unique ‘Arts of Islam: Treasures of Nasser D. Khalili’ exhibition, which this week ended a three-months run at Gallery One in Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi, attracted an impressive audience of over 61,000 visitors from throughout the GCC and further afield.

The exhibition, which featured 500 artefacts from the famed Nasser D. Khalili collection – some on public display for the first time – was a key component of a major educational programme aimed at preparing an audience in advance of the opening, in the UAE capital, of the largest single cluster of world class cultural assets.

The education programme is being organised by Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) – Abu Dhabi’s leading cultural and tourism asset developer and the name behind the transformation of Saadiyat Island, the 27 square kilometre signature destination which will be home to the world largest cultural cluster.

“The visitor response surpassed our expectations and has demonstrated the latent regional appetite for culture on a grand scale,” said Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and Managing Director TDIC.

“The Arts of Islam exhibition resonated with all ages and nationalities with the audience coming from throughout the Emirates, the wider Middle East and from within Abu Dhabi’s growing international tourism base.”

The visitor profile ranged from members of Abu Dhabi’s ruling family ,royalty and political leaders from overseas also visited and included: Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden; Britain’s Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Prince Michael of Kent; Jordan’s Princess Zein bin Al Hussein as well as MP and Lebanon’s Head of the Future Parliamentary Bloc, Saad Hariri.

Nearly 9000 students from schools, college and universities were also key visitor groups.

“This exhibition has been a significant driver in building the artistic confidence of Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the region – from the perspective of both the organisers’ and visitors. It has inspired us to scale up our educational endeavours and deliver equally meaningful artistic experiences which will assist in nurturing a national psyche of arts appreciation and assist in establishing our global cultural credentials,” added Al Muhairi.

TDIC is currently negotiating the staging of a second international level exhibition which, it hopes, will be staged over the summer months and feature a significant educational element.

“The ‘Arts of Islam’ exhibition was complemented by a sustained programme of symposiums, lectures and workshops delivered by regional and international Islamic arts scholars and attended by a diverse audience of local and regional artists and educators,” explained Lee Tabler, CEO, TDIC.

“This programme was highly successful in focusing the attention of the regional arts scene and in stimulating wider arts discussion within school and college campuses throughout the UAE.”

The Cultural District of Saadiyat Island will host cultural assets of a scale and scope which, combined, have never previously been seen in living memory. This includes the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum, a performing arts centre and a maritime museum. Acclaimed architectural visionaries have been commissioned to conceptualise the cultural assets including Lord Foster for the Sheikh Zayed National Museum, Frank Gehry for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, Jean Nouvel for the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zaha Hadid for the performing arts centre and Tadao Ando for the maritime museum.



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