FEATURE. At the end of an overscheduled Wednesday in the midst of Berlin Art Week, Her Excellency Huda Ebrahim Alkhamis-Kanoo arrives breathless to our interview. The din of dealers hobnobbing with artists and collectors over espressos in a packed hotel lobby adds a degree of timeliness to our discussion.
“There is something I must tell you,” she says with a measure of unexpected intimacy, even before I can ask my first question. “In the arts, we need to be present on the international map. I am trying to invest in and strengthen this presence. In the Arab world, we talk to each other, we share ideas. But we need to speak more to the rest of the world.” Her voice is soft, but her message is as structured as the classic Chanel jackets she buttons up like a uniform most days.
As a preeminent patron of the arts in the United Arab Emirates, the founder of Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation—or ADMAF, Alkhamis-Kanoo’s endeavors over the past 20 years have led to the Foundation’s support of educational grants for artists and cultural programs for students, while fostering and legitimizing an intergenerational community of visual artists, writers, musicians, and designers in the process.