Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 21 October 2019

Ghadan 21: Abu Dhabi launches series of free cultural festivals

A Diwali night market and a kite festival are among dozens of events to be spread over the city's islands

Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed tours an event offering previews of the festivals in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Courtesy: Department of Community Development
Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed tours an event offering previews of the festivals in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. Courtesy: Department of Community Development

Dozens of free outdoor festivals will be held across the capital this winter in a celebration of cultural diversity.

Abu Dhabi Moments will feature 30 events and activities on Reem Island, the Corniche, Al Bateen, Hudayriat Island and in the city centre.

The cultural drive is part of the Ghadan 21 plan to ensure the emirate is the best place to do business, visit, live and work.

I would like to see different nationalities saying 'there was something in Abu Dhabi that was designed for me'.

Sultan Al Dhaheri, Department of Community Development

Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, toured an event offering a preview of the festivals on Wednesday.

The first events will begin this month and run until the end of the year, with dozens more expected next year and in 2021.

Live events will include an outdoor Sunday market, a drive-through cinema, a haunted house and many more, the Department of Community Development said.

Sultan Al Dhaheri, the department's head of community engagement and sports, said there would be more than 30 events this year, with the number rising to 200 by 2021.

“Diversity was taken into careful consideration as there are citizens of many nationalities and different cultures living in Abu Dhabi," Mr Al Dhaheri said.

"We have carefully curated events to include art, music, sport, food and retail."

With Dh50 billion set aside over three years, Ghadan 21 focuses on four areas: business and investment, society, knowledge and innovation, and lifestyle. .

The budget was approved by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Ghadan, which means tomorrow, is the banner for a series of sweeping reforms aimed at stimulating investment, creating jobs, encouraging innovation and improving the overall quality of life for Abu Dhabi residents.

The first event, the Reem Festival, will take place from October 17 to 19.

It will feature kite-making workshops, professional kite-flying performances, entertainment, barbecues and several other activities for all age groups.

"I would like to see different nationalities saying 'there was something in Abu Dhabi that was designed for me'," said Mr Al Dhaheri.

Residents can expect Diwali night-markets s and even outdoor karaoke.

"It is for everyone," he said.

Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, chairman of the department, said there is a commitment by the government to provide a "dignified life for all members of the community, regardless of their culture, nationality and age group".

Abu Dhabi residents said they are looking forward to a winter of live outdoor entertainment.

“This is wonderful," said Lilian Piliton, 54, from the Philippines, a domestic worker for an Abu Dhabi family.

"Many of the events are too expensive here and if we go to the mall, then we have to shop and we can’t always afford that. I get every Friday off and meet up with friends but we always don’t know where to go.”

Mona Hajaj said the festivals were a perfect opportunity for her children to explore the outdoors.

“The is great for the family — [it is] much better than staying indoors on their PC and phones all day," she said.

Updated: October 9, 2019 09:28 PM

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