Illustration by Joaquin Kunkel

News of the Week: Abu Dhabi Ideas Festival, Barzakh Festival, ADISL

A glimpse into what's been going on campus this week.

Mar 4, 2018

Abu Dhabi Ideas Festival
The weekend of March 2 and 3 brought the United Arab Emirates’ innovation month to a close with the Abu Dhabi Ideas Festival held at NYU Abu Dhabi.
Tamkeen and the Aspen institute, an educational and policy studies organization, hosted the event for the second consecutive year. The campus was transformed into an intellectually stimulating street carnival and the festival setup spanned almost the whole length of the campus, with the main performances taking place in the Central Plaza.
The event included talks by high-profile speakers such as former U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development H.E Noura al-Kaabi.
The festival was part forum and part festival, with invite-only talks on advances in technology and science along with workshops and music performances occurring simultaneously. The forum featured discussions with highly qualified thinkers and innovators who hope to tackle global moonshot challenges, including the possibility of a cancer-free world. The festival included talks by renowned professionals such as Taim Al Falasi and David Rosenberg on topics ranging from 3D printing to international affairs.
There was an array of performances in genres such as R&B and the blues and from countries such as Egypt and Nigeria. Workshops catered to people of all ages, from building robots to practicing Haitian dances to learning about 3D-printed prosthetic arms for a cause.
“The Abu Dhabi ideas weekend has been one of the most authentic events I’ve experienced at NYUAD. It provided me with a whole new perspective on several topics such as cancer research, [political] polarization, the modern Silk Road in China and artificial intelligence. Also, to be in the same room with such successful people has been inspiring. I would say that David Cameron, Dr. Lily Peng, Dr. Tal Danino and Nicolas Sarkozy have been my favorite speakers,” said Nouf Khan, Class of 2021.
The Barzakh Festival
The Barzakh Festival occurred on Feb. 28 and March 1 and featured a lineup of brilliant and diverse performances. Five bands from different nations and backgrounds shared the stage in the Red Theatre and put on impressive shows.
The term barzakh refers to a barrier or a veil, but in this context it focused on the part of the sea where salt and sweet water meet and coexist but do not mix. The essence of this festival is captured in its title; the festival a space where culturally different entities perform in harmony while maintaining their uniqueness.
On Feb. 28, 47SOUL and Pedro Coquenão/Batida took the stage. 47SOUL’s performance marked the group’s debut in the United Arab Emirates. 47SOUL’s music, which they call “shamstep”, is an electro take on Arabic dabke, which is traditional celebratory dance music. The members are all originally from Palestine and they emphasize ideas about freedom of movement and the struggle for equality in their music.
Pedro Coquenão/Batida put on a unique performance with his Aftro-tronic music that was accompanied by dance and video. His music aims to convey his search for the reconstruction and deconstruction of his memory and life experiences.
March 1 featured performances by The Ex + Fendika, RAM and Al Nuban Folklore Troupe. The Al Nuban Folklore Troupe is rooted in Afro-Emirati tradition, specifically of Sudanese origin. Performers wore traditional kanduras and almost 20 dancers swayed and sang to the rhythm of the tanbourah. Ex + Fendika is a collaboration between groups that, when combined, fuses Ethiopian Azmari music and dancing with punk and free jazz.
Finally, RAM closed the night with a fusion of rock and Afro-Haitian music, creating an atmosphere of high spirits through ceremonial vodou rhythms combined with punk-inflected electric guitars.
“Attending the Batida and 47SOUL concert helped me realize the importance of the Arts Center as a place of cultural intersection. The festival highlighted the musical soundscape of NYUAD as one that is diverse, multilingual and non-conforming,” said Archita Arun, Class of 2020.
Abu Dhabi Inter-University Sports League
This week was full of falcon pride as many NYUAD sports teams played a series of matches in preparation for the final rounds of the Abu Dhabi Inter-University Sports League.
On Feb. 26, the women’s volleyball team emerged victorious with a score of 2-0 in the ADISL semifinal against Khalifa University. On Feb. 28, the women’s basketball team won against Khalifa University in the ADISL semifinal with a score of 40-27. The men’s badminton team NYU Abu Dhabi White and the men’s table tennis team NYU Abu Dhabi Purple played their respective finals on the same day. The badminton team lost with a score of 3-0 against Khalifa University while the table tennis team won against Khalifa University with a score of 3-2.
“I think that we’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season last semester, especially in terms of our communication and team chemistry on the court. We still have a lot to improve on for the upcoming finals game against American University Dubai, but I really believe that we have a great shot at retaining the gold!” said Ivory Lee, Class of 2021, a member of the women’s basketball team.
Shalini Corea is a Deputy News Editor. Email her at
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