Doha: The John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, has honoured Badr Jafar, CEO, Crescent Enterprises, and 27 Grammy Award-winning producer and jazz artist Quincy Jones for their work to bridge cultures through music and theatre.
Other leaders in the arts and performers, including Sheikha Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President, Sharjah Art Foundation, patron of the arts, Zaki Nusseibeh, and Arif Naqvi, CEO, Abraaj Group, are also among this year’s award recipients.
Jafar and Jones received the Kennedy Centre International Committee on the Arts gold medal in the Arts at a ceremony in Dubai, an honour they hope will draw attention to the power of “cultural diplomacy” to build closer ties between nations.
“It has always been a strong belief of mine that the arts provide a common language and possess the unique ability to transcend borders, promote cultural understanding and change attitudes,” said Jafar.
“Through these endeavours, and other great ones being celebrated here today, it is my hope to not only foster regional talent, but spread it internationally, simultaneously addressing our society’s needs and connecting cultures on a unique and very rewarding level.
“The UAE government has been a phenomenal supporter of arts and culture, and with Sharjah this year being nominated the Islamic Cultural Capital, Dubai hosting the World Expo in six years’ time, and world-class new arts museums opening in Abu Dhabi in the next few years, I am excited by what the future holds for the cultural economy of the country and the region.”
In partnership with Jones, Jafar established the music production company Global Gumbo Group (G3) to promote and showcase the musical talent of Middle Eastern artists.
Through its first major venture in 2011, G3 released the Arabic charity single Tomorrow/Bokra featuring 24 artists from 16 Arab countries, debuting at No. 1 and remaining at the top of the Virgin International & Arab Music charts for five consecutive weeks.
Jones said: “I’m a vocal proponent of music and the arts being a great asset in building bridges between people and cultures. It’s my belief that the arts and arts education are important components for building the foundations for a better tomorrow. The arts are food for the soul.”
Last year G3, in collaboration with Dubai’s World Trade Centre, staged Dubai Music Week, the Middle East’s first music industry convention, attracting more than 35,000 people. The annual event brought together major music labels, artists and merchants to launch new initiatives and celebrate musical talent from the Middle East and North Africa region, with Lebanese singer Xriss Jor, 27, winning the inaugural talent search.
The schedule for Dubai Music Week 2014 is expected to be announced this week.
Jafar is also involved in the development of theatre in the region, founding the non-profit Middle East Theatre Academy (META) in 2011 with multiple Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Kevin Spacey Foundation, to introduce, influence and nurture the young talent of region in the art of stage performance, theatre and education.
META participants will also write and produce a home-grown play at a three-week academy in Sharjah later this year, with the objective of performing it across the region and on the international stage, including New York and London.
Jafar has also been appointed member of Guggenheim Middle Eastern Circle and Artistic Director’s Circle of Old Vic Theatre Trust.
The John F Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts was established in 1971 as a memorial to President Kennedy. It is the largest provider of arts and arts education in the world, holding more than 2,000 performances a year.
And the committee, set up in 2001, supports the global arts community by convening in a new international location each year. This year’s event was held in Dubai from March 30 to April 3.