WOMAD Abu Dhabi April 2010, Rango and Tanzanian dance group on stage. Photo NeilvdL.

The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, abbreviated as ADACH, for years was the main semi-governmental body overseeing Abu Dhabi’s cultural events. ADACH initiated the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, the Abu Dhabi WOMAD festival, the Sounds of Arabia festival, the Abu Dhabi Classics classical concert series, the Beit Al Oud Arabic music academy, the Al Qattara Arts Center in Al Ain, concerts in Al Ain, plans for an international Arabic music institute in Al Ain, lectures, exhibitions and many other activities.

ADACH’s activities virtually came to a standstill at the end of 2010 due to organizational and financial problems.

Its remainders will merge with the Cultural Department of the TDIC, the Tourism Development and Investment Company. The new structure will be named the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, ADTCA.

The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair still operates under the banner of ADACH. The Beit Al Oud Arabic music academy is still functioning as well, still officially under the ADACH banner, while some of its activities already carry the ADTCA logo. The Abu Dhabi Film Festival now is part of the twofour54 media zone complex. The Abu Dhabi WOMAD festival, the Sounds of Arabia festival and the Abu Dhabi Classics classical concert series have been terminated. The WOMAD festival, organized as a subsidiary of the British World of Music Arts and Dance festival (once set up by rock artist Peter Gabriel), was extremely successful, artistically as well as in succeeding bringing together thousands of people from all backgrounds and communities living in the UAE. Are we really in Abu Dhabi, some in the crowd might have wondered, seeing all the cheering, the mixing of communities, participation of young and old. The Sounds of Arabia festival and the Abu Dhabi Classics had strong merits too. The ambitious plans for in international Arabic music research center of excellence in Al Ain have been shelved indefinitely. For more on Abu Dhabi’s music life in which ADACH played an important role, see the chapter on this topic.

The former compound of ADACH on Hamdan Street at the crossing of Sheikh Maktoum street was Abu Dhabi’s oldest cultural venue, including a performance hall, an open air amphitheater and an exhibition space. There had been plans to demolish the complex, including some fine typically regional first modern seventies architecture. But it seems this idea has been abandoned and that it might be reopened after a much less radical renovation, which would provide Abu Dhabi again with a much needed extra performance venue, moreover as the construction of Zaha Hadid’s projected performing arts venue on Saadiyat Island will take many more years. The ADACH compound is located next to the historical Al Hosn fort, and always provided a great area for leisure and entertainment. Now for several years the complex has been a closed area with walls around it carrying promising slogans about culture, but with nothing happening.

Written by: Neil Last modified: 16th Nov 2012