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Every year on 18 December, the United Nations celebrates World Arabic Day, to mark the anniversary of the date in 1973 when the UN’s General Assembly adopted Arabic as one of the official languages. As part of these celebrations, the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre is organising the Arabian Days festival, set to begin on 15 December and culminate on 18 December 2023. 

Read on as Wego gives you a rundown of everything you need to know about this event.

What is the Arabian Days event? 

The Arabian Days event aims to bring together connoisseurs of culture from all walks of life, with events designed to appeal to even those who do not know the Arabic language. The event will feature music, poetry, visual artistry, and other elements to showcase the heritage and contemporary creativity of Arabic. 

Ali Bin Tamim, chairman of Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, stated that Arabian Days is being planned as an annual event. He described Arabian Days as “an annual opportunity for enthusiasts of the Arabic language and culture to come together and celebrate the past, present and future of this beautiful language.” 

Arabian Days is poised to be a cultural highlight in the Abu Dhabi event calendar by supporting established and emerging talent in the current linguistic landscape.

Beyond showcasing the creative potential of the Arabic language, the initiative aims to inspire younger individuals, irrespective of their linguistic background, to explore and embrace their artistic abilities, fostering a broader appreciation for creativity.

Arabian Days 2023 dates & venue

Arabian Days will begin on 15 December, and culminate on 18 December 2023, coinciding with the celebration of World Arabic Day. 

The festival will be held at the Manarat Al Saadiyat, a district in Abu Dhabi seeped in culture, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the new Abrahamic Family House and more.

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What to expect at Arabian Days 2023?

The events at Arabian Days are crafted to be inclusive, catering to both Arabic speakers and those unfamiliar with the language. It will encompass various forms of art such as music, poetry, visual art, and more, elucidating the rich heritage and contemporary creativity of Arabic culture.

The comprehensive plan involves interactive installations, films, live performances, and workshops. Additionally, scholarly discussions are integrated into the program, providing a platform for dialogue among academics and the wider audience during the festival events.

Here are some of the major attractions at Arabian Days 2023.

Concerts

The festival will witness around 30 performers, each being chosen on the basis of their literary prowess. The concerts will take place on a special outdoor stage. 

The biggest name amongst these would be Khoury, the celebrated Lebanese artist. He will be closing the festival on December 18. 

Some of the other big names who will be taking the stage are:

  • Abeer Nehme, famous for his music that touches upon everything from folk music to Islamic devotional songs and ancient Arabic lullabies, will be performing on December 15
  • Anwar Abu Dragh, oud player and singer of traditional Iraqi folk songs, will also be performing on December 15
  • Opera singer and pianist Fatima Al Hashemi will play on December 16
  • Palestinian singer Noel Kharman will be performing on December 16, marking her first concert in Abu Dhabi

Art exhibitions

The main gallery space in Manarat Al Saadiyat will host an exhibition by Iraqi abstract artist, Mahmoud Shubbar. The exhibition will display his paintings inspired by the life of historic Arab poet Antarah Ibn Shaddad.

The exhibitions will also include the process pieces of the Lebanese graffiti artist Georges Ekmekji, who will develop a new piece in real-time during the festival.

Throughout the festival, there will also be a showcase of artworks that have earned recognition in this year’s Kanz Al Jeel Award. Organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre, the competition acknowledges visual art pieces inspired by Arabic literature.

Film festivals

Arabian Days will also feature a number of film screenings, thanks to Cinema Akil, which will provide a cinema setting to showcase a selection of long-form films.

These films will be centred around the themes of Arabic writers and poets, and also feature English subtitles. Here are some of the films that will be screened.

  • the Blue Whale, a 2014 drama based on the novel by Ahmed Mourad, will be screened on 16 December
  • the Last Queen, a 2022 period movie, will be screened on 22 December

Panels and discussions

During Arabian Days, a three-day conference will bring together writers, intellectuals, and cultural historians to explore the diversity of the Arabic language across various mediums. All conference sessions will offer English translations, and the complete program will be available online.

Some of the notable events include:

  • a panel featuring actress Zaki discussing the evolution of Arabic theatre, a conversation with musician Khoury about the stories behind his songs
  • discussions on challenges in teaching Arabic by Lebanese poet Jawdat Fakhreddine.
  • Emirati and Jordanian artists Najat Makki and Muntasir Al-Hamdan will explore Arabic calligraphy. 

Literature and storytelling

A cosy outdoor space at Manarat Al Saadiyat will be transformed into an intimate setting for nightly fireside stories, each session lasting three hours. These original tales, written and performed by selected artists, offer a unique immersive experience.

Arabian Days 2023 price

Notably, according to the reports, entry to the Arabian Days festival will be free of charge. 

 

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