Capital a fertile ground for growing seeds of creativity

Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and the Abu Dhabi Festival, explains why creativity is the only lasting wealth of a nation

The UAE capital possesses a clarity of vision in which culture and heritage are as valued as science and technology. Andre Forget / The National
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As we look towards 2015, named the “Year of Innovation” by the federal government, the UAE’s ambition is encapsulated in the National Innovation Strategy, a commitment to building innovation incubators, school and university programmes, and global partnerships. The focus on utilising the power of the mind to bring about further progress reflects an extraordinary ecosystem present in this country that can sow the seeds of invention.

Being a hub for new ideas is the reclamation of a long tradition of Arab thinking and something that the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation (ADMAF) encourages throughout the UAE by embedding and nurturing creativity.

Anyone who is familiar with Bedouin culture – historically, one of the founding elements of Arab culture and identity – will know that in the water-scarce environment of the desert, the notion of a seed growing is not taken lightly. Every plant that stems from a seed bears witness to a powerful, yet fragile, miracle. It bears witness to life itself, to life’s resilience, and to life’s extraordinary creativity.

We, at ADMAF, see our work as that of cultivating the desert – of creating the perfect conditions to germinate the seeds of creativity of every citizen of the UAE and then nurturing these seeds until they blossom.

Why do we do this? Why do we believe that nurturing creativity is essential to the future of the UAE? Because, throughout history, humanity can trace its evolution through periods of coexistence when the energy of cultural expression has fuelled the pursuit of progress and led to the discovery of new paths of thought.

In a world that has never been as complex and diverse as it is today, the ability of Abu Dhabi to generate new ideas and to be a place of inventions, is one of paramount importance.

The capital possesses a clarity of vision in which culture and heritage are as valued as science and technology.

We are blessed to have all these elements in place and our role, indeed our duty, is to spark enlightenment, to empower, encourage and inspire new ideas and embrace them. In such fertile soil, we can sow the seeds that can best equip us to shape our future world.

Through the Abu Dhabi Festival as well as our year-round arts-based initiatives, ADMAF opens the doors of knowledge to broaden horizons, to enable us all to imagine the impossible.

We create the optimal conditions to be able to say “What if?” We strive to support that first, simple, brilliant idea and allow the magic of creativity to happen.

In the young media leaders and cultural entrepreneurs we are training, in the emerging filmmakers, writers, artists and musicians we are funding and in the audiences for the arts we are fostering, we are exploring new theories, perspectives and practices.

And in 2015, the year that the Abu Dhabi Festival theme is Idea: The Seed of Invention, we invite the nation’s next generation to look beyond the boundaries of convention.

The lasting wealth of a nation is creativity. It is the world’s only limitless resource to ensure our prosperity – economically, culturally and socially. After all, a little less than 20 years ago, ADMAF was just an idea. Today, with a school and university network that spans the UAE, a family of global partners and a portfolio of creative platforms, we dream of making the desert flourish with ideas that will make a difference and will drive the UAE for generations to come.

In the end, the seeds, the ideas we plant are a force for good, the promise of a new future and of new possibilities, not only for us, but also for our children. All this lies at the heart of ADMAF and of the Abu Dhabi Festival.

Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo is founder of both the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and the Abu Dhabi Festival