Berklee President Shares News about the Berklee Abu Dhabi Center

Mike Lawson • News • January 22, 2020

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Berklee College of Music president Roger H. Brown has shared a letter regarding the Berklee Abu Dhabi Center. The letter was shared on January 21.

It reads:

“Dear members of the Berklee community,

I’m pleased to announce that on Monday, January 13, 2020, we signed a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) to launch Berklee’s first educational programs in the Arab world at the Berklee Abu Dhabi Center, to open in 2020. With this partnership, we are realizing an opportunity to expand our global footprint by creating a Berklee presence in this vitally important region.

The partnership provides for a fully externally funded 42,000-square-foot arts education center serving local and regional students of all ages with private lessons, ensembles, and a recording studio, and instruction in production, songwriting, dance, theater, and other programs. The programs will not be degree-granting or include courses for college credit. The partnership also encompasses $5 million in fellowships. The fellowship program will offer scholarships for students from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia to pursue degree programs in Boston, New York, or Valencia, or through Berklee Online; to attend a summer program in Boston or Valencia; or to attend a program in Abu Dhabi.

Why Abu Dhabi? The city is at the leading edge of cultural innovation in the region. Berklee’s project in Abu Dhabi will provide the institution with a connection to one of the most culturally diverse and historically rich parts of the world, and will improve access for young performers in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia—populations that are severely underrepresented at Berklee.

We recognize that political tensions pose potential challenges to the region. However, Berklee’s history is one of innovation and global engagement. Our vision is to create an interconnected ecosystem of campuses, centers, and partnerships that foster and inspire new artistic expressions, idioms, and ideas through leading pedagogy.

Additionally, Abu Dhabi is consistently ranked as one of the safest cities in the world, both in geopolitical terms and in day-to-day life. The city is committed to developing a tolerant and culturally diverse society, underpinned by a sustainable, globally open, and knowledge-based economy. Berklee will be part of a growing number of global institutions in Abu Dhabi, including the Louvre, the Guggenheim Museum, New York University, and Rhode Island School of Design, who have all welcomed visitors from all over the world and have seen success in the region.

Berklee is one of the most globally oriented higher education institutions in the world. This project is an extension of our global strategy and aligns with our mission to become the world’s leading institution in creative education through the cutting-edge teaching of music, dance, and theater. Our presence on different continents, particularly where we can offer new opportunities to students and develop partnerships that can help enhance cultural education, is part of delivering this mission.

Heading up the project are Berklee alumni Mayssa Karaa B.M. ’12, artistic director, and Gael Hedding B.M. ’05, director of Berklee Abu Dhabi. Karaa is a Grammy-nominated, Lebanese American singer-songwriter who performs internationally with a message focusing on empowerment and overcoming adversity. She has appeared on soundtracks for Bollywood and Hollywood films including American Hustle, and sang the seminal Arabic version of the alphabet song, featured on Sesame Street and known throughout the region. Hedding is a prominent music producer who is a Grammy and Latin Grammy Award–winner and former faculty member at our Valencia campus, where he lectured in music production, sound recording techniques, mixing, and live sound, at both graduate and undergraduate levels.

We believe in the power of arts education to create a more inclusive world. I’m excited about the opportunities the Berklee Abu Dhabi Center will create and encourage you to learn more at this websitesubmit comments and questions, and sign up to receive information about upcoming discussions of the project.

Roger H. Brown
President, Berklee”

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