Abu Dhabi officially named 'City of Music' by UNESCO

The UAE Capital joins Liverpool, Auckland, Sevilla and Chennai as focal points for music creativity

File photo
File photo

Ismail Sebugwaawo

Published: Tue 9 Nov 2021, 7:44 PM

Abu Dhabi has been officially named as a ‘City of Music’ by the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

The emirate now sits alongside Liverpool in the UK, Auckland in New Zealand, Sevilla in Spain and Chennai in India as focal points for music creativity as drivers of sustainable development plans.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s (UNESCO) initiative, which was launched in 2004 to promote cooperation among cities and recognises creativity as a major factor in their sustainable urban development plans, made the announcement this week.

Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, said: “Abu Dhabi’s winning of this title strengthens the success of our focus on developing the cultural and creative industries, and to make the UAE one of the leading regional centers of creativity. We are proud of Abu Dhabi joining the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

“We have three distinct creative cities in the UAE, which contribute to strengthening the country’s position on the global cultural and creativity map. Music forms an integral part of Emirati heritage.

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The Emirati musical tradition has flourished in different parts of the UAE, along with lyrical poetry. These musical traditions tell the story of Emirati pride, and the deep appreciation Emiratis have for their cultural identity and their land.

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi said: “From traditional sung poetry performances and ancient instruments to our modern music scene, Abu Dhabi has a unique musical legacy.”

Torch bearers of the Abu Dhabi music scene include Bait Al Oud, a homegrown academy which plays an essential role in documenting and promoting Arab music heritage, and Abu Dhabi Classics, the annual concert series paying tribute to classical music.

Alongside the important music programmes of the Cultural Foundation are those of Abu Dhabi’s many cultural organisations such as the long-standing Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF), which, among its many activities, supports aspiring talents and musicians and hosts a renowned yearly music festival, a mainstay of the emirate’s cultural calendar.

The UAE capital has a rich heritage in traditional music and performance, and a thriving contemporary music scene. Today, the emirate is home to some 200 nationalities, each with their own culture and diverse forms of musical expression. Abu Dhabi’s five-year culture strategy, managed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi), aims to draw more attention to this musical diversity, to utilise music in public spaces to enhance liveability and sense of place, as well as to find ways of leveraging music as a tool for connecting older and younger generations.

Abu Dhabi has long prioritised culture and creativity as essential drivers of social development and economic diversification, constantly fostering meaningful forms of expression and identity that embody and shape people-centered, sustainable development. Music is one of the culture and creative domains which has seen significant levels of investment and support. Abu Dhabi is at the crossroads of the Arab world, Asia, Africa, and Europe, and this legacy of openness and cultural exchange supports the vision to grow a music sector fostering inclusion and identity across communities and generations.


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