The Arts Center Presents the Seventh Edition of Hekayah | the Story to Celebrate the UAE’s 50th Anniversary

Hekayah | The Story brings together a lineup of poets, spoken-word artists, musicians, and storytellers from diverse backgrounds and cultures in a special Jubilee celebration

Press Release

The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) will present the seventh edition of Hekayah | The Story in a virtual event on November 24 at 6:30pm. Hekayah | The Story is part of NYUAD’s celebrations for the UAE’s 50th anniversary and brings together poets, spoken-word artists, musicians, and storytellers from diverse backgrounds and cultures in a special Jubilee event.

This year’s edition includes a conversation between NYUAD Vice Chancellor Mariët Westermann and Cultural Adviser to the President of the UAE and Chancellor of the UAE University His Excellency Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh. His Excellency has been active in the United Arab Emirates government service for the past 50 years, and with the Government of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi since 1968. He will give a presentation on the history of the UAE and his work at the side of Sheikh Zayed, the founding President.

Following the conversation, audiences will enjoy a mix of live and video performances by  a lineup of Hekayah artists featuring:

  • Rami AbuAmmuna - Spoken word poetry (Palestine) 
  • Jawad Al Bdiwi - Music (Palestine/Jordan) 
  • Safeya Alblooshi - Sound Art (UAE) 
  • Shilpa Ananth – Music (India/UAE) 
  • Amro Bakri - Music (Jordan)
  • Farah Chamma - Spoken word poetry, music (Palestine)
  • Rand Farmawi - Ancient Arabic and folk songs (Palestine/Jordan)
  • Rakaya Fetuga - Spoken word poetry (UK) 
  • Ahmed T. El-Gaili - Arabic poetry (Sudan)
  • OMISSA - Music (UAE)
  • Mahmoud Kaabour - Spoken word poetry and documentary photography (Lebanon)
  • Enid Mollel - Pop and contemporary RnB music (Tanzania)
  • TheVokeys: Abdullah Alshams (NotSoHuman), Preston D'costa, and Fahim - Jazz, RnB, pop and rock music (UAE)

Hekayah has special meaning for us, as the event captures how the arts can celebrate diverse cultures and backgrounds and bring our community even closer together through sharing stories and songs that speak to the themes of nation, home, family, and heritage. The impressive lineup of artists chosen to celebrate UAE’s 50th anniversary beautifully capture the spirit of UAE itself and its inspiring and wonderful diversity. We are especially moved that several of the artists chose to create new pieces especially for the occasion, contributing to the growth of the nation’s creative output and future artistic legacy. Opening the evening with a talk with His Excellency Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, who has played such an important role in promoting the arts and culture as part of the UAE’s identity throughout the entirety of the nation makes this Jubilee edition even more notable.

Executive Artistic Director at NYUAD Arts Center Bill Bragin

The lineup of performers was selected through a collaborative curatorial process by key players in the cultural, poetry, arts, and writing communities across the UAE, including Maryam Khalifa Alshehhi, Marcel Kurpershoek, Hanan Al Sayed Worrell, Noor Al Suwaidi, Dorian Paul Rodgers, and Bill Bragin.

In conjunction with Hekayah | The Story, The Arts Center, in partnership with the NYUAD Art Gallery and the NYUAD Career Development Center, will present the Arts Chat: Building a Life as an Artist in the UAE (Part 2) on November 22 at 1pm, as part of the series Off the Stage presented by Mubadala. Palestinian spoken word poet and writer Rami Abuammuna, artist and Professor of Visual Arts at NYUAD Shaikha Al Mazrou, poet and performer Farah Chamma, and Egyptian singer Iama, will share how they have navigated their journeys in creating work for the UAE’s uniquely diverse audiences.

The Hekayah-themed UAE National Day Off the Stage events will continue on November 23 at 6pm with a creators’ workshop. In Satwa Stories: Poetic exploration through documentary techniques, documentary filmmakers Mahmoud Kaabour (Champ of the Camp, Teta Al Marra) and Denise Holloway will delve into the process of choosing spoken word to present their documentation of Satwa Stories – the critically-acclaimed spoken-word/photo-novella piece depicting the hidden gems and iconic characters from Dubai’s Al Satwa neighborhood. This in-person workshop, The Arts Center’s first since February 2020, will explore the creative possibilities of using poetry to present documentary research, specifically focusing on themes of fact-finding, wordplay, and image-making. Participants are encouraged to select five personal images or videos that center on a particular theme, location, or character.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts 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 over 115 countries 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.