Find out how Abu Dhabi Festival practice cultural diplomacy
Founder, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF)
Founder and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival
Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo is a patron of the arts who has dedicated her life to inspiring artists to create, generations to innovate and communities to unite and prosper. She worked tirelessly to found the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) in 1996 and is also the Artistic Director of the jewel in its crown, the Abu Dhabi Festival, which she established in 2004.
Founded in 1996, ADMAF is one of the oldest, cultural organisations in the region. Pioneering new artistic practices, it seeks to deepen global cross-cultural dialogue and inspire a renewed interest in the creativity of the UAE and Arab world. Often in partnership with leading national and international institutions, it delivers multidisciplinary initiatives for people of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities through the Abu Dhabi Festival, year-round youth platforms and community programmes.
Established in 2004, Abu Dhabi Festival acts as a time of celebration but also as a time of gathering and exchange for the different communities ADMAF serves:
The population of the Seven Emirates of the UAE, the region and the world.
Abu Dhabi Festival is the time and the place where the year’s work is shared, where new encounters are orchestrated and new ideas are forged, where long-trusted partners visit, new collaborations shape, and where artists and audiences connect.
Commission, produce, preserve and present the greatest music and art experiences in the UAE and beyond
Nurture invaluable cultural dialogue based on mutual respect and understanding to build a more peaceful future through the arts
The Festival positions Abu Dhabi as a leading destination for culture and the arts
Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo’s unquantifiable contribution to the UAE’s national cultural sector was recognised by the late President H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2006. His Highness appointed her to the Board of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (now Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi), on which she served until 2012.
Huda has received numerous awards for her dedication to the arts, education and women’s development, including The Abu Dhabi Award and Abu Dhabi Medal (conferred by President H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan), the UN-affiliated Women Together Award, the Aspen Institute Emerging Voice Award for Cultural Stewardship, the Puccini Festival Foundation Award, an honorary doctorate from the American University of Paris, and the Middle East Institute’s Visionary Award, and many others.
Amongst the orders bestowed upon her are The Commander of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic (Orden de Isabel la Católica), bestowed upon her by HRH Juan Carlos, former King of Spain, under the order of HRH Philip IV, King of Spain; The Medal of Civil Merit of Spain; the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz); Commendatore dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarietà of Italy; Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur of France; Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France; the Belgian Officer of the Order of the Crown, bestowed upon her by HRH Philippe, King of Belgium; The Gloria Artis Medal of Poland; the Order of the British Empire (OBE), bestowed upon her by the late Queen Elizabeth the Second; and the Medal of Honour from the Reina Sofia School of Music bestowed upon her by Queen Sofía of Spain.
She serves on the Middle East Institute’s Board of Governors and its International Advisory Committee, the Cleveland Clinic International Leadership Board, the Lang Lang International Music Foundation Board, the International Circle of the Reina Sofía College of Music’s board of directors, and the International Advisory Board of the Edinburgh International Festival. She is also a founding member of the American Ballet Theatre’s Global Council and sits on the National Advisory Board of Zayed University – College of Arts and Creative Enterprises.
An Emirati National, the daughter of a pioneering Saudi businessman and a Syrian mother, Huda was born in Beirut, Lebanon. Raised at a crossroads of cultures, her education took her to the American College of Paris, where she studied French literature and art history. Huda returned to the region and settled in Abu Dhabi. She is married to businessman and artist Mohamed Abdul Latif Kanoo, a member of the prominent Yusuf bin Ahmed Kanoo business family of the Kingdom of Bahrain, with whom she has three children, Abdul Latif, Noor and Abdul Rahman.
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