Science expertise from Edinburgh is being used to help put together a learning festival in Abu Dhabi.

Organisers of the Edinburgh International Science Festival are working with the Abu Dhabi Science Festival on content and programming as the event gets underway today.

It is the seventh year that educational charity has been part of the week-long event, staged annually by the Abu Dhabi Department for Education and Knowledge (ADEK).

As part of its remit, Edinburgh International Science Festival team:

· Helps curate, produce and deliver the rich and ambitious programme of the Abu Dhabi Science Festival, tailored to its audiences.
· Manages the logistics around the design, purchasing and shipping of the Festival content and support the local team on site through the installation process.
· Trains around 1000 students from local universities in Abu Dhabi to deliver engaging science events and workshops to the public.
· Hires and trains over 40 team leaders supervising the content from the UK and UAE and further 50 companies from UAE and around the world to provide the content to the event
· Arranges all of the Front of House, ticketing and technical aspects of the Festival working alongside local partner, Flash Entertainment.

Simon Gage, Director of Edinburgh International Science Festival Ventures, says: It is always a great pleasure to share what we know about staging world-beating science festivals and to learn from others along the way. This is why working with international partners is such a privilege and especially when it is one as ambitious as the Abu Dhabi Department for Education and Knowledge.

As the whole world seeks to engage young and old with science and technology what we have to offer becomes more and more valuable and we find the number of enquiries for partnerships keeps rising. Science festivals were invented in Edinburgh and the appetite for them is spreading to every corner of the world.

“Through our involvement with the Abu Dhabi Science Festival we have gathered valuable experience in educating and entertaining the enthusiastic audiences of the Middle East. We see opportunities to work with people in many other parts of the world as the fundamental need to put science and technology back in to mainstream culture is one shared by everyone as we take on the 21st century.”

Founded in 1989, Edinburgh International Science Festival is an educational charity that aims to ‘inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to discover the world around them’.

The organisation is best known for organising the annual Edinburgh International Science Festival: the world’s first festival celebrating science and technology and still one of Europe’s largest; 2018 marks Edinburgh International Science Festival’s 30th anniversary.

Edinburgh International Science Festival is the Programming Partner and Content Manager of Abu Dhabi Science Festival and has been since its foundation in 2011.

The event is organised annually by the Abu Dhabi Department for Education and Knowledge (ADEK) and has attracted over half a million people since its inception with annual visitor numbers of 150,000 and 10,000 children on organised school visits. This year’s programme launches today, 17 October with the Festival running from 9 until 18 November.


The collaboration between the two science festivals started in 2009 when Edinburgh Science Festival’s Director Simon Gage received a phone call from Abu Dhabi asking them to submit a business plan for a similar event in the United Arab Emirates, based purely on the Festival’s reputation in science public engagement.


The Abu Dhabi Department for Education and Knowledge is also growing a science education programme touring schools based on EISF’s Generation Science programme in Scotland. In the UAE’s it is called Lema?, which means Why?.

Over the last six years the Edinburgh Science Festival team has been working to build local skills and content to become a bigger part of the Festival, grow audiences for science and technology in UAE, teach communicators and establish an education programme. This drive to localise the Festival complements UAE’s approach to supporting young people in choosing careers in STEM and nurturing the scientists of the future.

Nicola Shepherd, who has been working with the Abu Dhabi Science Festival for seven years, adds: “I’ve been involved with ADSF from the very start in 2011 and this is seventh festival. Out here I’m part of a small team of Science Communication Tutors who visit many of the local universities and colleges and train their students in communicating with confidence. Those students then volunteer for ADSF and help run all the workshops and exhibitions of the festival. I love being a part of this project and seeing the students develop during the training process and then throughout the festival is extremely rewarding and makes me feel like it’s all been worth it.”

The Edinburgh International Science Festival has developed expertise not only in providing training and producing a large-scale event in Middle East but also raising profile of a STEM-focused company on the international circuit.

For international partners, it can provide engaging content, curatorial advice on programming, business planning support, expert staff and training for local science enthusiasts in general science communication skills or in specific tops such as cyber-hacking.

To date, it has delivered projects in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, China and Brazil as well as across every corner of its native Scotland.