Inaugurated in 2012 and presented with Chopard, the Abu Dhabi Festival Award is given annually to individuals for outstanding lifetime contributions to arts and culture. The Abu Dhabi Festival Award has become the benchmark of cultural excellence.
In recognition of His Royal Highness’s intellectual, cultural and poetic accomplishments and status as one of the most prominent voices in contemporary Arabic literature.
In recognition of the unprecedented cross-cultural dialogue instigated by The Ensemble and its musicians from more than 20 countries. The award also celebrates the personal commitment to cultural collaboration from The Ensemble’s director, renowned cellist, UN Messenger of Peace and 17-time GRAMMY award-winner Yo-Yo Ma.
Mohamed Abdo in recognition of his esteemed career spanning more than six decades and his status as one of the most prominent musical pioneers in the Arab world, dedicated to the development of culture and arts.
Wynton Marsalis, the founder of the Jazz Lincoln Center and a nine-time GRAMMY Award-winner, in recognition of his exceptional accomplishments in the service of culture, music and arts education and youth development.
In recognition of his literary and diplomatic accomplishments and influential role promoting cross-cultural dialogue and exchange.
The first award commemorated the career of the eminent Lebanese conductor and composer, Dr Walid Gholmieh (1938–2011), and was received by H.E. Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Lebanon and Dr Gholmieh’s widow, Elham.
In 2013, Plácido Domingo was honoured for his contribution to opera, his support of young practitioners and his tireless commitment to nurturing new audiences.
To mark the 11th edition of the Abu Dhabi Festival in 2014, an unprecedented three awards were bestowed upon three outstanding individuals who have dedicated their lives to inspiring and engaging youth in music: José Antonio Abreu, Gustavo Dudamel and Quincy Jones.
In 2015, to mark the Abu Dhabi Festival’s 12th edition, awards were given to two of the world’s leading conductors, Iván Fischer and Riccardo Muti. Both continue to push the boundaries of their practice while engaging the young in upholding the rich legacy of classical music. In a similar vein, a posthumous award was received by Bernard de Launoit, President of the Queen Elisabeth Music College in Belgium, on behalf of his father, Comte Jean-Pierre de Launoit (1935–2014).
In 2016, awards were given to dancer and conservationist Sylvie Guillem, the Oscar-winning composer Gabriel Yared and renowned author Amin Maalouf.