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Berklee Abu Dhabi opened its doors in March 2020, making it the first Middle East presence of the world-famous Berklee College of Music. The college’s original incarnation in Boston, Massachusetts, is the largest independent college of contemporary music in the world. While known for its contributions to jazz, it also delivers courses in everything from hip hop and reggae to salsa and rock, counting Quincy Jones and John Mayer among its alumni.
Abu Dhabi Berklee boasts Grammy-winning music producer and engineer Gael Hedding as its Director, and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Mayssa Karaa as Artistic Director. In partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism, the college offers courses in music production, song writing, vocal coaching, dance and theatre.
Berklee Abu Dhabi also offers educational experiences through workshops, masterclasses, courses, ensembles and labs, all led by world-renowned artists and instructors. The Abu Dhabi outcrop teaches from the UAE Pavilion’s newly renovated 42,000-square-foot arts education centre on Saadiyat Island. It comprises a performance space, a recording studio, rehearsal studios, practice rooms, ensemble rooms and a multimedia tech lab.
While Abu Dhabi Berklee is a fee-paying institution, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi also operates the Berklee Abu Dhabi Fund, which provides scholarships for promising students to Berklee’s US campuses in Boston and New York, and Valencia, Spain. This is part of its much broader goal to transform arts education in the Middle East and “create the region’s next generation of artists and inspire them to better our world.”
In all, Berklee College of Music works with over 6,400 students around the world, representing more than 100 nationalities. Its alumni have won 310 Grammy Awards, more than any other college, along with 108 Latin Grammy Awards, 34 Emmys, seven Tonys and eight Oscars.