Cultural Foundation

A visionary who looked at a changing world through eyes that seemed to pierce the future, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan sought to engage the United Arab Emirates in cross-cultural dialogue with the wider international community from the outset, firmly establishing the UAE as a crossroads for various cultures – in the process revealing the nation’s welcoming openness to a culture of tolerance and hospitality.

Committed to this vision to create an environment conducive to cultivating and elevating the mind which would also reach out to the world, leadership passed a law the same year to set up a cultural body whose aim was to nurture heritage and the arts in the United Arab Emirates

The Cultural Foundation opened in 19881 and provided the first National Library, along with a performance auditorium and an exhibition centre. The formal establishment of the Cultural Foundation saw the launch of a series of ground-breaking programmes celebrating local and regional culture, showcasing a variety of art forms and encouraging cross-cultural exchanges on many new fronts

From that time on, the Cultural Foundation has gained regional and international acclaim as a world-acclaimed venue for culture and the arts. The building itself has gained prominence as a modern heritage landmark, registered as one of Abu Dhabi’s cherished cultural heritage resources.

From its inception to the time of its renovation and beyond, the Cultural Foundation has remained true to the original aspirations of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, fulfilling one of his ambitious and far-reaching visions for the UAE and its people - bestowing the timeless, inestimable endowment of cultural heritage and art. For more information, visit

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