Ghanaian creatives to benefit from cultural revolution in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Cultural District

Ghanaian creatives to benefit from cultural revolution in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Cultural District

Ghanaian creatives – architects, artists, sculptors, graphic designers, playwrights, and musicians – are some of the best placed to benefit from the cultural revolution happening at the Saadiyat Cultural District (SCD) in Abu Dhabi, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak has said.

He stated that prior working relationships and the quality of work from Ghanaian innovators ensure they will become leading figures at the enclave, which seeks to be the global hub for fostering collaboration and empowering diverse talents, offering a perfect platform for a thriving artistic scene.

“We want to work closely with Ghanaian artists. Beyond visual artists and architects, there's a vast array of Ghanaian cultural content, including music, , and design,” he said in an exclusive interview with the B&FT, where he noted that a piece by celebrated sculptor, El Anatsui remains one of the most exciting at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, which is within the SCD.

“Within our collection, we already have fantastic Ghanaian artists, such as El Anatsui. When we acquired his piece, it became one of my favourites, and it was acquired right here in Abu Dhabi during an art fair focused on African galleries and artists. This piece will be one of the highlights of the Guggenheim collection,” he explained.

Global hub for artistic expression

H.E. Al Mubarak stated that the SCD was the natural progression of the vision of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who believed that “a country is not measured by the size of its area on the map. A country is truly measured by its heritage and culture.”

Within a 10-minute walking radius, the SCD offers a diverse array of cultural and educational institutions. These institutions are interconnected through their curatorial intent, serving as centres of research, development, and connectivity.

The enclave is home to the classical museum and home to the famed Mona Lisa, the Louvre Abu Dhabi; the contemporary art museum, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; the Zayed National Museum, which chronicles the history of the Emirates and the Natural History Museum, home to the fossil of a Stegosaurus, which is estimated to be over 100 million years old.

Others are the interfaith Abrahamic Family House; the music-focused Berklee Abu Dhabi; Teamlab Phenomena Abu Dhabi and the Manarat al Saadiyat, at the centre of it all.

The Chairman further explained that a key aim of the SCD is the elimination of prejudice to promote social cohesion and intellectual growth.

“To understand the distinctiveness of SCD, consider the scale and scope of these institutions. They are colossal, yet they convey profoundly human messages that ground you in the broader context of humanity. When you visit these museums, you cannot help but feel part of something larger than yourself. This experience fosters a sense of unity and diminishes prejudices.

For example, imagine walking through the Louvre Abu Dhabi and encountering exhibits that celebrate diverse cultures and heritages. You see African art placed alongside European masterpieces, and ancient Asian artefacts displayed next to Middle Eastern treasures. This equal representation encourages visitors to appreciate and respect different backgrounds,” he said.

He further disclosed that the Department of Culture and Tourism will be providing financial aid in the form of subsidies and affordable studio spaces not just for local artists, adding that the Emirates has approximately 200 unique nationalities represented.

Highlighting Africa's rich heritage

As further evidence of its commitment to partnering with Ghanaian and other African acts, the major upcoming event at the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be the ‘Kings and Queens of Africa' exhibition at the beginning of 2025, co-curated with African museums.

This exhibition will explore the majestic history of African kingdoms, showcasing artefacts and installations that celebrate the continent's rich cultural legacy. “I am also thrilled to share some exciting news with you. At the Louvre, we host major exhibitions in our temporary exhibition space. In the past, we've had remarkable exhibitions, such as an impressionist exhibition and one of the three holy books from the Abrahamic faiths.

“The next major exhibition we are working on, in collaboration with African museums, is the “Kings and Queens of Africa.” I'm very excited about this because it will shed light on the rich history of African kingdoms, such as the Kingdoms of Benin [and Ashanti], through artefacts and art. This exhibition is set to be the signature event of 2025, and I believe it will be an extraordinary experience. I am looking forward to it already,” he said.

These and others are projected to increase tourism contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Abu Dhabi from five percent to at least 10 percent of its economy which is projected to hit US$415.7 billion by 2030.

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