The Cultural Foundation Part of this Year’s Qasr al Hosn Festival
While undergoing conservation, Abu Dhabi’s important culture centre partially reopens to the public with a programme celebrating the collective memory of the city
Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority announces the Cultural Foundation’s programme as part of the Qasr Al Hosn Festival, which comes under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The programme recreates moments and memories closely linked to the space through performing arts, workshops, and film screenings, as well as by introducing a newly designed contemporary space, Gahwa, serving authentic Emirati coffee and reflecting the importance and rituals of the UAE’s intangible heritage.
Qasr al Hosn Festival visitors will be able to see the conservation project underway in the Cultural Foundation, which was built in 1981 to showcase Islamic cultural heritage and as a centre of art and learning. The building was closed in 2009 to allow for the preliminary works for the Qasr al Hosn conservation project to commence. Qasr al Hosn Fort and the Cultural Foundation building are fundamental anchors to the entire Qasr Al Hosn Cultural Quarter. The conservation masterplan is underway in order to create a holistic cultural experience, reconnecting the pre-oil historic fort, the modern cultural heritage building, and Abu Dhabi.
HE Sultan bin Tahnoon al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority said, “Qasr al Hosn Festival gives visitors the opportunity to be part of the Cultural Foundation conservation programme. Our aim is to engage with the community and associate them to the conservation process. They have always been part of the Cultural Foundation life and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority will ensure that they will continue to belong to this landmark.”
HE Sheikh Sultan added, “There are many people in Abu Dhabi who have fantastic memories of the Cultural Foundation, who saw one of their first concerts and theatrical performances here – we do not want to drastically modernise the site, we want to retain that sense of nostalgia. This will be a reinstatement of the original, rather than a wholesale adaptation.”
The Cultural Foundation is one of the most successful examples in Abu Dhabi of the thoughtful combination of Modern and Islamic architecture both in terms of fundamental design principles and aesthetic details. The introverted character of the building incorporates elements of local architecture and pays homage to the architecture of Qasr al Hosn through the use of the pure and exposed exterior concrete, the low scale, the longitudinal lines, and many architectural details.
Because of its historical, architectural, symbolic and urban significance, its legacy has brought regional and international recognition to Abu Dhabi as an important cultural hub for the region. It is today an important component of Abu Dhabi’s collective memory and is the bridge between Qasr al Hosn and Abu Dhabi’s future aspiration for cultural growth.
For this year’s edition of Qasr al Hosn festival, The Cultural Foundation programme is celebrating particular memories associated with this cherished landmark by reviving the Cultural Foundation’s three main programmatic elements: the Learning, the Performing Arts, and the Visual Arts.
The exterior amphitheatre has been set for film and poetry. A marathon of poetry readings by UAE poets will take place daily, recalling memories and moments that the building witnessed in the past. A selection of documentaries, performance films and animated shorts will be screened on a daily basis, showcasing unique narratives on the history and traditions of the United Arab Emirates. The performing arts programme for this year’s Qasr al Hosn Festival draws inspiration from Qasr al Hosn as a meeting place for the community, where people exchanged stories and poetic verses. The programme is designed as a daily marathon of solo poetry readings that are derived from the UAE’s oral narratives and collective memories. Emirati Poets participating in the programme include: Saood Al Kaabi, Saood Al Messabi, Hadi Al Mansoori, Hamdan Al Samahi, Ibrahim Al Shami, Rashid Al Mansoori, and Hamdan Al Mahrami.
The Cultural Foundation also features a unique space, Gahwa, a contemporary Emirati café concept where guests can enjoy gahwa; the authentic Emirati coffee, in a distinctively designed multi-sensory experience reflecting Emirati culture. Guests will be able to learn about the gahwa’s history and ritual, and enjoy a curated exhibition with live performances. Various types of Emirati gahwa are on offer for guests to taste or to take-away. Gahwa will give visitors the opportunity to experience the Emirati tradition of gahwa with a contemporary twist whilst providing an engaging cultural experience.
The National Library that has always been part of the Cultural Foundation is present through a selection of books about Emirati culture and heritage. Festival visitors will be able to enjoy and reminisce moments spent in the treasured landmark of the Cultural Foundation. A retail area will also sell merchandise reflecting UAE crafts and traditions.
Visitors of all ages will also be able to join in Emirati heritage themed workshops and watch demonstrations held in the heart of the Cultural Foundation, the central exhibition space which witnessed and inspired most of the city’s exhibitions. The workshops include sadu weaving (a traditional form of weaving still practiced by Bedouin women in rural areas of the UAE), and telli (a form of traditional Emirati embroidery still practiced today). Visitors will also be able to join traditional clothing and accessories themed workshops, and pottery.
Qasr al Hosn Festival is a historic and cultural celebration that welcomes thousands of visitors following its successful first edition last year. It runs this year from the 20th of February till the 1st of March 2014.
For more information about Qasr al Hosn Festival, please visit www.qasralhosnfestival.ae.
About Qasr al Hosn Festival
Qasr al Hosn Festival is an annual event held on the grounds of Qasr al Hosn that celebrates the history of the fort and many centuries of Emirati culture and tradition. The main aim of the festival is to strengthen the appreciation of Emirati heritage and identity and to engage people in the ongoing restoration of the more than 250-year-old structure. The festival comprises a theatrical show, and a wide range of historically and culturally themed exhibitions, workshops demonstrations and activities. The UAE community and visitors will experience both the tangible and intangible heritage of the Emirate through a wide range of activities at the grounds of Qasr al Hosn. This will present the fort in historical context, putting Qasr al Hosn on the cultural map and into the cultural life of Abu Dhabi today. The festival will take place from February 20 to March 1 2014.
About Tourism & Culture Authority
Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction which enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike. The authority manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment. Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. TCA Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage. A key authority role is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close co-ordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.