A star-studded cultural line-up has been promised for this year’s Abu Dhabi Festival, the UAE’s largest classical art event and one of the most significant in the region. The event, which is organised by the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation, will showcase a variety of exhibitions, classical music concerts, jazz performances and plays. It will take place in venues across the UAE between 11 March and 6 April. Following this year’s theme of \"Connecting Cultures\", the festival will host artists from across 18 countries. The United Kingdom has been named as the guest of honour, reflecting the festival’s long-term partnership with some of Britain’s most important cultural institutions such as the Royal Opera House, Manchester International Festival and Edinburgh International Festival. A special tribute will be paid to the legacy of Abu Nasr Muhammad Al-Farabi the ninth century Arab musician, philosopher and scientist, through a series of three concerts. The festival will also pay homage to the \"glory days\" of the Arab cultural empire that at its height stretched from as far as Andalucía to China. Committed to its many education goals, the organisers are running numerous musical activities for children and young people. The initiative will also include the BBC Philharmonic Maestro who will offer a unique interactive musical experience for children, while the sensory show, Oily Cart’s “Drum”, is designed specifically for babies and toddlers. Some of the world’s top classical artists will perform throughout the four weeks. Anoushka Shankar, the internationally renowned sitar player and the only artist to be trained exclusively by her father, the legendary Ravi Shankar, is one of the highlights of this year’s festival. Iraqi oud master Naseer Shamma and The Global Music Ensemble will perform a repertoire specially commissioned for the Abu Dhabi Festival. Natalie Cole, the Grammy award-winning American singer and daughter of Jazz legend Nat King Cole, will make her Middle East debut. Another newcomer to the festival is the world famous UK Royal Opera House. They are expected to perform “Beloved Friend”, a ballet written by acclaimed director and screenwriter Sir Ronald Harwood, which tells the story of Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and his patron Nadezdha von Meck. For the third consecutive year, the Abu Dhabi Festival will feature the Emirates Youth Symphony Orchestra and the Premiere Music College of Prague Youth Symphony Orchestra. Acclaimed UK theatre company Globe Education at Shakespeare’s Globe, also returns to Abu Dhabi with \"A Midsummer Night’s Dream\" and a series of workshops. A must-see exhibition is “Gestures and Light” by Iraqi artist and calligrapher Hassan Massoudy, which will be held at the Ghaf Gallery. Panel discussions will see leading experts explore subjects of cultural diplomacy and exchange of thoughts.