Renowned conductor and best-selling author Benjamin Zander visits Abu Dhabi

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and in the presence of HH Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, and Chairman of the Executive Committee, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) organised a series of special talks presented by the famous conductor, author and motivational speaker Benjamin Zander.

Senior figures and students heard Zander cover the topic of leadership at the two sessions, which were conducted on Wednesday and Thursday at Manarat Al Saadiyat.

The meeting was attended by His Highness Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, HE Noura Bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, HE Hussein Bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, HE Hessa Buhamaid, Minister of Community Development, HE Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi, along with a number of officials from other government departments.

During the first session, Zander presented the transferring of his musical experiences to the business world to a wide audience of school principals. He then led an educational concert with school students, before presenting a dedicated talk for government and business officials on the following day.

“Achieving excellence does not occur by chance nor by applying abstract scientific theories but, rather, it occurs as an outcome of real-life accomplishments. Excellence is the result of a long and continuous journey,” said HE Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi. “Benjamin Zander brings with him a wealth of experience and insight and DCT Abu Dhabi was delighted to have brought him to the emirate to share his expertise with leadership and the younger generation.”

Zander explained that leadership is based on an important set of principles, most notably positive and unconventional thinking, and the willingness to make a difference. Based on his outstanding musical background, Zander shared a number of anecdotes, and talked about his own past career experiences, focusing on the importance of mixing music with shrewd business thinking and leadership.

Zander also expressed his delight at being in Abu Dhabi, which he believed has succeeded in establishing itself as a place of leadership, tolerance and generosity. He stated that the reason for his visit was to increase awareness of classical music and explain the importance of music in transformational change.

Zander also explained that just by being in Abu Dhabi for 48 hours, he was able to understand the vision and development of the emirate, underlining how both arts and culture needed to remain an educational priority in order to inspire the next generation. He felt that everyone he met in the capital was working towards a positive future vision to achieve Abu Dhabi’s goals.

Born in Buckinghamshire, UK in 1939, by the age of 12 Zander was studying with the famous musicians Benjamin Britten and Imogen Holst. After tuition from the great Spanish cellist Gaspar Cassado in Florence and at the State Academy in Cologne, he went to the United States on a Harkness Fellowship and has made his home in Boston ever since. He is currently the musical director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

With his psychotherapist wife Rosamund Stone Zander, he authored The Art of Possibility, which has been translated into 17 languages and is today one of the paramount publications in the fields of leadership strategies and team building. The book, which transposes the lessons he learned in the musical field to the world of business, has led to another career as a leading motivational speaker. Zander has talked at the World Economic Forum in Davos several times, where he was presented with the Crystal Award for “Outstanding Contributions in the Arts and International Relations”.

Throughout his career, he has received numerous awards, such as the International Council for Caring Communities in 2002 at the United Nations. In 2007, he was awarded the Golden Door award by the International Institute of Boston for his “outstanding contribution to American society” as a United States citizen of foreign birth. In March 2009, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from New England Conservatory of Music, and in 2012 he was awarded Faculty Emeritus status at that institution.

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