”Pollen” became reality through the idea of a Greek composer Ioannis Potamoussis in cooperation with Marina Glendinning. How do you see the cultural ties growing between the two countries after this performance?
Greece sings in every culture where music sounds. As you know, the ancient Greek Pythagoras revealed the mystery of music to mankind. He forever teaches us in Raphael’s School of Athens -- that marvelous fresco depicting an assembly of the great Greek philosophers. Among them, of course, are Socrates and his student Plato, who wrote that Socrates asked “for what should be the end of music if not the love of beauty?” Greece and the United Arab Emirates both love beauty. A love of beautiful music links our cultures, and Pollen strengthens that connection.
The partnership between Greek composer Ioannis Potamoussis and New York University Abu Dhabi’s in the creation of “Pollen” under Marina Glendinning is an excellent example of the growing cultural ties between Greece and the UAE. A love of beautiful music links our two cultures, which is strengthened through “Pollen.” We welcome and look forward to other partnerships with Greek arts organizations to help grow the cultural ties between the two countries. Music can be an important bridge among cultures, countries, and peoples, and I strongly believe it is a catalyst of peace, understanding, and harmony in the world. My hope is that the artistic partnership between Greece and the United Arab Emirates will serve as an example for the rest of the world to follow.
On the occasion of the “Pollen”, what is your message to the young people who study music here?
Music surrounds young people today. Every device delivers a tune. I am delighted that so many of our youth venture beyond ordinary listening and commit themselves to the academic and artistic study of music. The study of music develops traits of character that are invaluable to human excellence and happiness.
“Pollen” is an excellent example for the young people who study music in the UAE of how to get involved in activities outside of the classroom to practice their studies. The classroom focuses on their education, while showcasing their talents in programs such as “Pollen,” can give them the opportunity to take their skills to the next level. I would advise the music students in the UAE to dedicate themselves to acquiring both sets of talents. I advise them to work hard, to apply themselves and to push themselves past any perceived limits. As they become performing artists, they will help further intercultural dialog, expand the global imagination and, of course, provide great joy and entertainment. If I were speaking directly to the young people who study music here, I would tell them that we are proud of them. We are impressed by their talents, and appreciate their commitment to enriching our lives in the United Arab Emirates. They inspire all of us.
Given the rich cultural identity that Abu Dhabi has acquired, are there also plans to produce more cultural events related to young talents?
Yes, we strongly believe in the value of cultural activities that foster a love of arts and entertainment in our youth. For twenty years, the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation has consistently worked to inspire young people and schools to begin or continue their music and arts education and/or talent development. The brilliant pollination initiated by Ioannis Potamoussis and Marina Glendinning exemplifies the new cultural opportunities for young people in Abu Dhabi. We expect these programs to continue, with the hope that effective national and international partnerships and initiatives will provide new cultural opportunities for our young people.
Abu Dhabi is fast becoming a pivotal cultural and economic center in the region and the world. Under the leadership of the President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahayan, Abu Dhabi and the UAE value knowledge, support culture and the arts, and promote peace and global understanding. Further, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahayan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, has a clear vision for Abu Dhabi as an influential world city that greatly values its heritage and cultural principles and traditions. There are currently many ongoing cultural activities for the engagement of youth in Abu Dhabi. These activities encourage their wider participation, support their creativity and innovation, and help to achieve the goal of making Abu Dhabi a major center of culture and the arts in the region and the world.
The Greek community now has a strong presence in the UAE. What does this mean for Greek-UAE relationship?
The global culture that distinguishes the UAE would not be complete without a strong representation from Greece, a land that has given the world a classic model for civilization. Many common interests unite Greece and the UAE, perhaps none more critical than a respect for reason. The ancient Greeks first celebrated reason, an attribute described by Sophocles as “God’s crowning gift to man.” The power of reason enables us to work together in an orderly, productive, and peaceful fashion. Our commerce, our engineering, our technological and medical services, our government, our finance and banking industry, our manufacturing, our education system, our transportation, our engagement with the arts and sports—the whole of our human activity must respect reason. The Greek people who live and work in the United Arab Emirates bring with them a long tradition steeped in reason. They have come to a global society that welcomes them with good reason.
Greece and the UAE share many common interests and values, and our unique friendship endures because of its many dimensions. I am confident that UAE- Greece relations will continue to grow and prosper for the mutual benefit of both countries.