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Ways of Seeing with Mubadala. Photos courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival
Ways of Seeing with Mubadala. Photos courtesy Abu Dhabi Festival

Comprehensive guide to the Abu Dhabi Festival 2013

A complete guide to the ins and outs of the Abu Dhabi Festival, which kicks off this week.

Old Abu Dhabi

Festival goers are invited to see a different side of the capital. Jalal's Art Trip at Ghaf Gallery (March 6-16) is the resulting exhibition of art works after curator Jalal Luqman took participating artists on a tour of Abu Dhabi's and Al Ain's oldest neighbourhoods.

On stage

The acclaimed actor and poet Dr Habib Ghuloom Al Attar headlines a series of concerts around the UAE (March 10-28), performing alongside the Iraqi oudist Khalid Saleh, the Syrian singer Samar Naser and the Omani visual artist Shaim'a Al Mugheari.

Those looking for folkloric tales can head to The Story Mile at the Corniche's Sahil Al Maydan. Led by the influential storyteller Abdul Aziz Al Musallam, the outdoor programme will feature stories steeped in Emirati history and culture.

For a mix of local and western, check out Resuscitation Theatre's adaptation of Shakespeare's Cymbeline at The National Theatre (March 20-23). Titled Al Malik, the production is set in a mythical village where the heroine Hind is banished for secretly marrying a childhood friend.

Opera fans can head to Marina Mall's Vox Cinemas on March 12 for a special screening of Carmen by the Opera National de Paris. The production is performed in French with English subtitles.

The music

It's not only the stars hogging the festival limelight. The next generation of virtuosos will have their chance to shine at the mini in-house Emirates International Peace Music Festival. The programme has the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Youth Symphony Orchestra of Premier Music College, Prague, team up for a series of shows in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah (March 19-23). All concerts will feature soloists from the Korean National Ensemble and winners of the 2013 GCC Emirates International Peace Music Festival Competition.

For more young musical talent, check out the Young Artists' Day Evening Concert at the Abu Dhabi Theatre on March 9. Featuring an Abu Dhabi-based 18-piece youth orchestra, the performance will feature an original composition played alongside The Declassified Ensemble selected by New York's Carnegie Hall. Meanwhile, the sweet voices of Brighton College Abu Dhabi choirs will ring out from the Brighton College Theatre (March 27) with a special guest appearance by the Welsh tenor Bryn Terfel.

For the mind

The festival doesn't only offer visceral experiences. The Riwaq Al Fikr sessions return with more free debates and panel discussions at New York University Abu Dhabi's Downtown Campus. On March 10, Abu Dhabi Poetry Academy's Sultan Al Amimi will battle it out with the filmmaker Dr Aisha Bikhair as they discuss the fraught terms "culture" and "identity".

On March 27, the Lebanese composers Assi and Mansour Rahbani will discuss their work and the challenges of upholding the family reputation for musical excellence.

For the children

Anyone doubting the Abu Dhabi Festival's education pedigree should check out the guest names for its students-only programmes. As well as performing Romeo and Juliet, the Globe Education theatre company will present a series of student workshops at UAE schools and universities, today, tomorrow and Tuesday. Scottish Opera will present Sensory O (March 17-19), a tailor-made production for children with multiple learning disabilities at the Autism Centre and Early Intervention Unit of the Zayed Higher Organisation.

Tickets can be purchased from the Abu Dhabi Festival Box Office at Emirates Palace (open 1pm to 7pm daily) or at www.timeouttickets.com/abudhabifestival


Romeo and Juliet

The Globe Education has introduced Shakespeare to a new generation, staging innovative productions in schools and universities and at international festivals. The performance takes place tonight and tomorrow night.

Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra: Homage to Fokine

Performing on March 14 and 15 at Emirates Palace, the legendary Russian ballet company performance consists of four dazzling short ballets - Chopiniana, Le Spectre de la Rose, The Dying Swan and Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade - choreographed by the Russian dance legend Michel Fokine.

Placido Domingo

Performing on March 20 at the Emirates Palace Auditorium, the Spaniard is set to enrapture audiences, with support provided by the Grammy Award-winning soprano Ana Maria Martinez and the Czech Philharmonic.

Joshua Bell

Joshua Bell and his 1713 Huberman Stradivarius will hit the Emirates Palace Auditorium on March 22, performing pieces from a stellar 30-year career as a soloist, chamber musician, recording artist and conductor.

Bechara El Khoury's Poème Orientale

Closing the gala with popular Welsh tenor Bryn Terfel, the Franco-Lebanese composer and poet Bechara El Khoury has been commissioned to compose Poème Orientale, which will make its world premiere at the festival on March 26.

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