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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

Window opens on India’s diverse cultures for the Abu Dhabi Festival

Through song and dance, artists in the Abu Dhabi Festival will show there is more to India than just Bollywood

Merchants of Bollywood dance production will be at Emirates Palace.
Merchants of Bollywood dance production will be at Emirates Palace.

An under-appreciated facet of Indian arts is set to be explored as part of the 2018 Abu Dhabi Festival.

With the nation awarded country of honour status for next year’s event, Navdeep Suri, the Indian ambassador said

the distinction will provide a valuable opportunity to expand people’s frame of reference when it comes to what constitutes Indian arts and entertainment.

“I feel that too much of the cultural efforts that India or the Indian community has made in this country has been principally directed towards the Indian community,” he said.

“For me that is not enough. We must take the Indian culture mainstream and make sure there is a much better understanding of India beyond Bollywood and that is why we have diverse programme for the Abu Dhabi Festival.”

Suri highlighted the classical Indian dance productions in the festival in addition to the upcoming appearance of Amjad Ali Khan, who will perform a sarod recital – the stringed instrument that, with the sitar, forms the backbone of classical Indian music – at Emirates Palace on March 25 as an example.

“He is an absolute maestro in the sarod and began performing from the age of six. He comes from a family of musicians and his sons now represent the fourth generation of artists,” the ambassador told me.

“He is an example of the marvellous tradition of an art that has been handed down from generation to generation.”

Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, the founder of Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation, said that guest of honour status was a demonstration of the country’s tolerance and cultural exchange:

“It is about opening doors and sharing knowledge and we at the Abu Dhabi Festival celebrate that,” she said, pointing to the festival’s expanding reach as following Founding Father Sheikh Zayed’s legacy to learn from others. “Sheikh Zayed built a nation by practicing tolerance, hope and inclusion rather than fear and rejection and we honour this legacy by ­continuing this wonderful message.

“We are inspired to weave the elegant and intricate balance between tradition and modernity. We rejoice in the diversity of seven Emirates complementing each other, but also the cultural diversity within the United Arab Emirates, which is home to so many different nationalities, living side by side in harmony and prosperity.”

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