Sixth Annual Hekayah | the Story Brings Together Poets and Musicians to Celebrate UAE National Day

The online event will explore themes of home, belonging, and the arts in an interconnected world

Press Release

The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) will host a diverse line up of poets, spoken word artists, musicians, and storytellers., As part of the celebrations for the 49th UAE National Day Hekayah | The Story will continue as an online performance with artists from all around the world who are exploring their rich cultures through their art forms. Over its six sixth editions, the event will have featured over 60 artists from more than 30 countries, capturing the internationalism that is a hallmark of the UAE. This year, the event will be streamed live on The Arts Center’s Facebook page, YouTube channel, and Arts Center website on Wednesday, November 25 at 7pm.

Hekayah | The Story is a one-of-a-kind event that showcases the diversity of the UAE, 11 artists will explore their respective heritages and artistic journeys through spoken word and music. From Emirati, Trinidadian, Australian/Pakistani, and Kuwaiti poets, Egyptian musicians, a Saudi Arabian graffiti artist, and more, Hekayah | The Story boasts a diverse and eclectic line of artists and performances hailing from the region and beyond. Streamed online this year, the artists will explore questions such as the meaning of home, nation, belonging, the city as a living, changing place, and family. Hekayah | The Story will also embrace the wider concepts of what it means to live in an interconnected world and the role that the arts and expression play during a global pandemic.

The lineup of performers has been selected through a collaborative curatorial process, by key players in the cultural, poetry, arts, and writing communities across the UAE, including NYUAD Class of 2021 student Maitha AlSuwaidi, visual artist and curator Noor Al Suwaidi, NYUAD Visiting Assistant Professor Literature and Creative Writing Tishani Doshi, Table Tales author and Senior Representative for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in Abu Dhabi Hanan Al Sayed Worrell, Rooftop Rhythms Director Dorian Paul Rogers, and The Arts Center Executive Director Bill Bragin.

One of the things I love most about Hekayah is how it brings together so many diverse perspectives through our collaborative curatorial process, which introduces new artists to The Arts Center we might not otherwise know about. Having these multiple viewpoints feels like a perfect metaphor for what the UAE means to many of us, a country which finds strength and unity in its incredible diversity. It’s this aspect we celebrate for National Day, presenting a strong Emirati perspective which is in dialogue with the rest of the world.

The Arts Center Executive Director Bill Bragin

NYUAD Class of 2021 Maitha Alsuwaidi, from the UAE, and recent recipient of the 2021 UAE Rhodes Scholarship (along with Hoor Ali Alnuaimi, also performing) will also host the event. Alsuwaidi said, “After experiencing being a performer and poet at 2019’s Hekayah | The Story, it is thrilling to get to be on the other end of the process this year - as a co-curator and an emcee. The duality of my experiences helped me understand the creative process of the artists we are showcasing this year, finding nuances in the diversity of forms, expression, stage presence, and most importantly, stories. Not only is this experience providing me with a valuable insight into the curatorial world, but it feels that I’m coming out of it as a poet and performer more constructively critical of my own work.”

The full Hekayah | The Story artist lineup includes:

-             Maajed Ahmed – Calligraffiti (KSA)

-             Rasha Alduwaisan – Spoken word poetry (Kuwait)

-             Hoor Ali Alnuaimi – Spoken word poetry (UAE)

-             Mary Collins – Indie folk (USA/UAE)

-             Safia Elhillo – Spoken word poetry (Sudan /USA)

-             Gohary & The Band – Arabic fusion music (Egypt/UAE)

-             Ian Keteku – Spoken word poetry (Ghana/Canada)

-             Maryam Khalifa Alshehhi – Spoken word poetry (UAE)

-             Zohab Khan – Spoken word poetry (Australia /Pakistan/UK)

-             Miyamoto is Black Enough – Spoken word, alternative jazz-funk (Trinidad/USA)

-             Maisoon Mubarak – Classic Arabic singing (Egypt/UAE)


About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and science campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly-selective liberal arts, engineering and science curriculum with a world center for advanced research and scholarship enabling its students to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from 115 nations and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.