With Sheikh Zayed’s poem and Narjes Noureddine’s calligraphy as a starting point, we worked with Cranleigh Abu Dhabi’s students over five days in November to interpret what Sheikh Zayed’s moving poem – Beautiful World - means to them.

The result was a piece created by the students themselves in response to Beautiful World. What made this so relevant is that the students represent perfectly the international community envisaged in Beautiful World. For all of us it was a truly inspirational journey. We found the students to be open, inventive and hungry to learn and to try things out. They were very confident in their creative decision making, and throughout, proved to be amazingly collaborative and open to working across all art forms. They were self-disciplined, used their initiative, and were keen to explore areas out of their comfort zone. The school itself, with its first class facilities, represents a wonderful creative hub for the city and for the students. The teachers and staff were equally impressive – open-minded, passionate and incredibly supportive of the process. With Narjes herself also involved, the whole project provided an ideal environment to use the contrasting cultures of all the participants and create something new and original. It was an exceptional experience for us. A groundbreaking opportunity to work with such a wide range of cultures in such a welcoming city. Hopefully, this experience can lead to Abu Dhabi exploring other opportunities for developing creative skills, in schools, universities and indeed the whole community. Karen Gillingham, Director Karen is creative director of Garsington Opera Learning and Participation and artistic director of the Royal Opera House, London, Youth Opera Company.