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Cultural Personality of the Year 2023

Omar Ali Mahmoud Khairat


The SZBA Board of Trustees endorsed the Scientific Committee decision to choose Khairat as the Cultural Personality of the Year in recognition of his distinguished efforts and remarkable musical works, which transformed the way musical works are presented, and where he added his own personal touch that can be seen in several musical introductions to films and multiple dramas.

Honouring musician Omar Khairat with the SZBA’s Cultural Personality of the Year award reflects the Emirate of Abu Dhabi’s commitment to advancing its global position as a capital of art and creativity. It also underlines Abu Dhabi’s classification as a ‘City of Music’ by UNESCO for its efforts to support music and bridge the gap between the Arab world and other cultures, as well as its contributions towards promoting openness and cultural exchange, supporting the music sector, and enhancing opportunities for integration across societies and generations.

About the Cultural Personality of the Year

Omar Ali Mahmoud Khairat was born in 1947 in the Al-Sayeda Zainab neighbourhood in Cairo to a family who loved the arts. He had a passion for the piano, and with it discovered new musical domains in the Egyptian collective memory and personality. Khairat graduated from the Conservatoire and was among the first batch to graduate from the prestigious music institute, where he studied piano under the Italian Professor “Caro”, in addition to studying musical theories. He then moved on to study music composition at Trinity College in London, where his independent musical persona was formed, establishing himself as a professional composer who formulates his own musical visions with distinctive musical phrases.

Early on in his career, Khairat joined the band (Les Petits Chats), which was an Egyptian rock band formed in the early 1960s. He also played the drums in various groups, which noticeably influenced his music, as evident in his creations, ‘The Maid’ and ‘Arabian Rhapsody’, among others. The public was first introduced to Khairat with the soundtrack for the 1983 film ‘The Night Fatima was Arrested’.