- Event in the UAE capital draws to a close after four successful days of cultural performances, interactive workshops and discussion on importance of cooperation between Islamic countries
- Festival’s main stage featured 30 cultural performances by groups from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Palestine, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan
- Artists and visitors praise Abu Dhabi’s ability to unite
Abu Dhabi, April 29, 2019: Abu Dhabi has once again shown the leading role it plays in promoting cultural diversity, tolerance and unity while preserving traditions spanning the entire Islamic world, according to exhibitors and visitors at the 2nd Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Festival OIC, held under the patronage of His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Tolerance.
Running under the theme ‘One Nation Unified by Benevolent Cooperation, Justice & Tolerance’, the festival, organised by OIC in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), concluded at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition today following four days of captivating cross-cultural performances, knowledge sharing and dialogue on how Islamic countries can collaborate for the benefit of Muslims worldwide.
Coinciding with the UAE’s ‘Year of Tolerance’ and the 50th anniversary of the OIC, the festival served as a vehicle to unite nations from across the Islamic world in a tailored platform designed to highlight the cultures, traditions and values of Islam through essential elements including music, arts and cuisine. The festival acted as a gateway for Muslims to gain a greater understanding of the diversity of their faith, while providing non-Muslim visitors with in-depth insights into the inherent ability of Islam to spread messages of tolerance, unity and harmony around the world.
Over the four days, the festival’s main stage featured 30 performances from groups and individuals representing a diverse range of Islamic countries: UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Palestine, Indonesia, Burkina Faso, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan.The main stage also provided a platform for four, thought-provoking seminars addressing topics such as tolerance, cultural heritage and female empowerment.
“The UAE is a leader in tolerance, emphasised by the fact that more than 200 nationalities, people of different religions, beliefs and backgrounds, live and work together in peace and harmony. Abu Dhabi has more than matched our expectations as the perfect host for this festival which helps the Organisation enhance awareness of the broad cultural diversity and traditions across the Islamic world,” said Mr Youssef Aldobeay, Advisor of H.E the Secretary General for Political Affairs, Elected Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs and OIC General Secretariat.
For SESRIC, the statistical and social research and training centre for Islamic countries, which serves the OIC’s 57 member states, the festival provided crucial face time with public institutions of OIC member countries, as well as NGOs and the public, to raise awareness of its activities and programmes.
“The festival allows SESRIC and other OIC institutions to exchange ideas and activities regarding how to increase tolerance, peace, unity and cooperation in OIC member countries,” added the SESRIC spokesperson.
Artists praise Abu Dhabi platform to demonstrate importance of Islamic arts
The festival in the UAE capital provided a perfect opportunity for artists to demonstrate their talents, share knowledge of their traditions and engage new audiences in how Islamic arts can foster a culture of tolerance and unite people regardless of nationality or beliefs, according to those who graced the stage this week.
Running alongside the cultural performances on the main stage, the festival featured 12 calligraphy workshops; 19 children’s entertainment activities – including Hakawati storytelling and puppet shows;16 Tatreez and Weaving workshops at the Palestine Pavilion; 14 painting workshops within the Palestine Pavilion, while the mini stage played host to 30 performances from Oud and Qanun musicians.
“The presence of music is very important in any event and festival and it is nice to see music in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Festival,” said Emirati musician Mohammed Saeed, who entertained festival visitors with his performances on the Oud.
“I believe music is a part of the solution of all problems we face in the world; music brings people together, it is such a beautiful and sophisticated art and it helps to spread the message of peace and tolerance. It is wonderful to see people from all nationalities and cultures gather in the festival to learn about cultures and art. This is not something unusual to the UAE, which is characterised by a diverse demographic that shows tolerance and coexistence.”
Preserving and promoting traditions and values on such a stage as the OIC Festival in Abu Dhabi was also an immensely proud moment for UAE national Shayma Almughairy – the region’s first sand artist, who showcased the principles of Islam, such as justice and respect, through her unique art form using the basic component, which is an important part of Arab history and culture.
“I chose the sand painting because it is a rare art in the Gulf region and Arab world. The ability to tell stories about important issues such as respecting parents and justice, which is closest to my heart, is a great opportunity for me,” said Almughairy.
“My participation in the OIC Festival has enabled me to spread the message of tolerance and equality. Being invited to participate in this festival is a great honour to me and I thank the organisers.”
An educational experience
Meanwhile, visitors to the festival said the four-day celebration served as educational platform to learn more about diversity that permeates the Islamic faith.
“The festival was interesting and interactive. The best thing for me, was the making of the Ghilaf which will be used this year to cover the Kaaba. I also tried my hand at Palestinian embroidery, and I found the Mihrab Installation, which is composed of the heart beat and its link to the Quran, fascinating. I will go back and do more research about it. The festival for me is more than just an event, it has highly informative.” said Shafaq Mohamed, a Pakistani national who lives in Abu Dhabi.
“I’m new to the UAE and heard about the festival so wanted to come and see as culture helps bring people together,” said Maria, a US national. “There’s so much culture in the UAE but this event in Abu Dhabi has given me the chance to learn about other Muslim countries. Meeting new people is always very interesting and festivals like this help you better understand where people have come from.”
OIC honours festival hosts
The four-day festival concluded with event organisers and hosts MOFA receiving recognition and an award from the OIC for the successful hosting of the 2nd Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Festival and for helping raise awareness of the importance of preserving and promoting cultural diversity across the Islamic world, and spreading the message of tolerance, justice and unity to the world.