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Abu Dhabi: In a significant honour, India has been announced as the ‘Guest of Honour country for the prestigious 15th Abu Dhabi Festival (ADF) which is a month-long festival celebrating art and culture, to be held in March 2018 in Abu Dhabi. It will see performances by 'The Merchants of Bollywood an Indian theatrical extravaganza, 'We The Living, a classical Indian dance inspired by Rumis ‘The Human Being by the Tanusree Shankar Dance Academy and sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

The announcement of India being the Guest of Honour country was made at a packed press conference at the Emirates Palace Auditorium on Monday, according to a UAE Embassy press release.

The Festival will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister of Tolerance.

The selection of India as Guest of Honour country is significant as 2018 is being celebrated as the ‘Year of Zayed', to mark the birth centenary of Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE and the country's first President.

ADF 2018 will see the participation of more than 500 international artistes and 40 composers from 30 countries.

Indian Artists of eminence will participate in the event. The India-related events will include workshops by Gilles Chuyen, who has been trained in France in Folk, Modern Ballet and Contemporary dance styles and as choreographer and works extensively with Bollywood; and Collaboration between Rajeev Kumar and UAE's Mohammed Mandi, both eminent calligraphists, from India and UAE respectively.

Umm AL Emarat Park will showcase ‘The Raghu Dixit Project', one of India's most exciting live acts with some of the finest musicians.

Navdeep Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said: "It is a matter of pride that India has been chosen as the Guest of Honour for the 2018 edition of Abu Dhabi Festival. We look forward to working closely with Her Excellency Huda AlKhamis-Kanoo and her team to bring some of the finest elements of Indian culture to the arts loving people of Abu Dhabi."

He said the "cultural effort that India or the Indian community has made in UAE has principally been directed toward the Indian community. By collaborating with ADF 2018 we hope to supplement these efforts to take Indian culture mainstream and make sure that there is a much better understanding of an India beyond Bollywood. That is why the focus is on showcasing some of India's magnificent diversity."

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