India to be ‘Country of Honor’ at Abu Dhabi Festival 2018

The event will showcase multiple performances by Indian artistes to celebrate its culture.


India has been chosen as the “Country of Honor” at the Abu Dhabi Festival 2018, in which the country’s culture will be celebrated through several performances. The United Arab Emirates will also seek to strengthen diplomatic ties with India, as it welcomes guests and celebrates artistic expression.

“It is a matter of pride that India has been chosen as the Guest of Honor for the 2018 edition of Abu Dhabi Festival,” Navdeep Singh Suri, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said after the announcement. “We look forward to working closely with H.E. Hoda Al Khamis Kanoo and her team to bring some of the finest elements of Indian culture to the arts-loving people of Abu Dhabi.”

“In 2018, the Festival recognizes the deep cultural wealth of India, reflecting on the historic ties between the UAE and the subcontinent – ties expressed through a long tradition of cultural exchange. We are excited to welcome artists from India across visual arts, film, theater, music and dance to this year’s Festival, allowing audiences to explore the depth and diversity of contemporary Indian culture,” according to the Abu Dhabi Festival website.

The theme of the event is the “Year of Zayed”, which will mark 100 years since the birth of Sheikh Zayed — the founding father of UAE. Zayed was the Emîr of Abu Dhabi and first Ra’îs President of the UAE.

At the festival, a theatrical dance performance composed by Bollywood choreographer Vaibhavi Merchant, called The Merchant of Bollywood, will be showcased on two nights. Acclaimed choreographer Tanusree Shankar has also created a performance that interprets Sufi poet Rumi’s “Human Being.” Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan will also perform at the event.

Besides these performances, a concert by The Raghu Dixit Project and French Bollywood choreographer Gilles Chuyen will also be held.

The performances will begin on Feb. 19, 2018 with Scottish violinist Nicola Benedetti’s show with the British group, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and go on until March 30, 2018.

India follows other countries, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (2017), France (2016), Italy (2015), United States of America (2014), Spain (2013), United Kingdom (2012), Belgium (2011), Poland (2010), France (2009), Lebanon (2008, 2006), and Egypt (2007), to find this place of honor.

India and the UAE have a strong bond since 3.5 million Indians live in the Gulf nation. It is the top choice for Indian migrants, according to Pew Research Center’s 2017 data. India also receives most of its remittances from the Persian Gulf, which includes UAE.

UAE was created when Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Umm al-Qaiwain, Fujairah and Ajman signed the Proclamation of Union on Dec. 2, 1971. Ras al-Khaimah became the seventh emirate when it joined in early 1972. Sheikh Zayed was the driving force behind creation of UAE.

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