3rd International Arts Festival in the UAE - FIAF 2020 -

International Monodrama Festival integrated into the 3rd International Festival of the Arts at the Arab Emirate Fujairah


While Dubai, alongside Abu Dhabi, is one of the well-known Emirates of the UAE, Fujairah is still a little off international tourism. Its cultural assets dawn in secret. Insiders still rarely find their way across the mountains. So did the chronicler.


The visitor is overcome with astonishment when he plunges into a wide valley after a 1.5-hour drive through bare mountainous terrain on the new, well-developed expressway from Dubai Airport, when the first villages and small towns open up and finally the Gulf of Oman in the sun displayed. Few skyscrapers, expressways and state-of-the-art hotels, no hectic crowds fleeing the heat in the shopping malls: Arrival in Fujairah, one of the seven Emirates east of the Hajar Mountains, with about 1165 km² about half the size of Saarland the east coast of the United Arab Emirates. Approximately 145,000 people live here, just over 100,000 of them in Fujairah City alone.


Tourism is growing slowly but steadily in the shadow of Dubai, often undercutting the boom city with the same hotel services. Their own range of special tourist destinations is still modest. As an investment in the expansion of tourism, the 3rd International Festival of the Arts came to an end at the end of February this year, a series of performances ranging from Arabic folklore and pop singing stars to an international monodrama festival, a theater biennial that took place this year on the 9th Time.


Fujairah International Monodrama Festival: An exceptional Arab cultural phenomenon

Once every two years, the Fujairah Culture and Media Authority transforms the region between Fujairah and Dibba, 50 km away, into a meeting of international culture within the framework of monodrama performances, a division of the globally operating International Theater Institute ITI and UNESCO. In Fujairah, the goal is to present Arabic and international theater with one another and among one another, as well as for the region and foreign guests, and to find young talents and promote them in their careers.


"The idea arose from the growing interest in the art of theater in the United Arab Emirates and especially in Dibba Al Fujairah," said Mohamed Saif Alafkham, Festival Manager, head of Fujairah Culture and Media Society (FCMA) and President of ITI Worldwide. In 2020, the aim was to make Fujairah again more culturally active through a mega event with participants and guests from numerous countries and to make something positive about monodrama art worldwide. “The implementation is supported by HH Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammad Al Sharqi, the Ruler of Fujairah. The festival is home to theaters of the world from areas of music, performing arts, theater, traditional art, etc.… ”, continues Alafkham. “The two theaters in Dibba show monodrama performances and come up with traditional music. A specially built large stage on the Fujairah Corniche offers several thousands of visitors evening singing and music events. Conferences, workshops and panels round off the festival.” The FCMA sees a win-win situation on the one hand in the exchange of art and culture, and on the other hand in the promotion of cultural tourism, which is so important.


The Fujairah calculation seems to work. Countless holidaymakers are leaving Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco for security reasons. The prices in other destinations such as Thailand have risen enormously, so that a stay in an emirate has long since come closer. And the large international hotel chains establish their mid-range and luxury class resorts in Fujairah. Every tourist is welcome because he pays and he counts. Alafkham sees his task clearly in cooperation: “We build cultural bridges to bring people here, to connect them both on the basis of the arts and cultural tourism. We have set ourselves the task of presenting a civilized picture of the Emirates and its residents to the Arab and international festival delegations at the festival. Our residents should meet the festival guests and participants and benefit from this diversity ”.


A big goal that was set in the Emirate of Fujairah. They have been working on it for 18 years now and in 2020 the 3rd International Festival of the Arts took a big step closer to that. The numerous guests saw it in the wide range of festival offers.

The world of monodrama meets once every two years in the Emirate of Fujairah. So in 2020. A diverse group of local and international guests and visitors come close to each other in Fujairah, open for discussions about the events of the Festival of the Arts and the monodrama. In addition, Arab superstars with their shows attract local people in droves. The Arab hearts swing to the rhythms of the songs. It is contagious what this world has to offer. And the hosts can rightly be proud of it. "We want to show the world who we are and what we have to offer, and at the same time open the door to experience and share other ideas around the world. Culture is the platform on which we learn to understand each other despite all the contrasts Culture brings us together and together", festival director Mohamed Alafkam continues.


The festival opened with a multimedia show, with a musical full of pride and pathos "from the sand to the stars" of the Emirates.

Abdullah Rashed came from the United Emirates with AL-MAMLOOK to represent a slave to a solution for his own liberation. Greece represented by Johnny O-Panayota Kantani with the BOMBER: three characters, three lives that were actually just waiting for their own destruction. The Philippines dealt with ethnic issues. AL MOLAQQIN, actually a dreamer, was played by Algerian actor Bin Bakriti Mohammed and HUDOD, interpreted by Muneer Al-Ammari from Tunisia. Long discussions afterwards - especially among the Arab guests - showed the exemplary meaning of each of these performances.


Women's power at its best

Some actresses have not only shown their acting talent in this festival edition. They were extremely open like the Russian Lidia Kopina. They exposed negative behaviors of macho types - like Subbuthi Lakmali in the Sri Lanka production UNTOUCHED - by venturing out of the "net" of their home environment into unprotected darkness to find their love relationships. Or they went one step further after the man cheated on them and freed themselves from marital ties. The anger over mental cruelty ended with the murder of the husband. (By outstanding actress Subada Khalifa in A WOMAN IN DARKNESS, a production from Bahrain). Finally, Laila Fares spoke in ANIAAB from Kurdistan-Iraq on topics like violence against women like murder and torture in her country. This brave female power even surprised guests from non-Arab countries.


Pip Utton presented his latest show AT HOME WITH WILL SHASKESPEARE during FIAF 2020. The "King of Monodrama" opened the door to the private life of the great poet in an amusing and profound way. The British actor of many characters, including Adolf, Magaret Thatcher and Einstein, once again brought a historical figure to life on stage. As always, in his very own, distinctive, loving and personal way, he seized the audience with whom he likes to interact in his typical way.


Lithuanian Birute Mar premiered her interpretation of The BUDDHA IN THE ATTIC internationally. She followed the writer Julie Otsuka and developed "a literary style that is half poetry, half narrative - short sentences, sparse description, so that the stream of emotions flowing through each chapter becomes more resonant through its restraint." (The Guardian) She took the Japanese women as their subject, who were brought in hundreds as mail order brides in the interwar period from “Come, Japanese!” To “A Disappearance” to San Francisco, where they gradually disappeared in the course of time.


Worth mentioning are the singer Tamela Hedstrom from Costa Rica and the Arab megastar Mohammed Abdu, the band Orange & Lemons from the Philippines, traditional dance troops from Armenia, Kuwait, Oman, Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, who as Ambassadors from their countries on the large stage by the sea in Fujairah and Dibba thrilled thousands of visitors: technically perfect and heartfelt festival - FIAF 2020.