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Nina Olatoke's All Africa Festival Brings The Vibrancy Of The African Continent To The UAE "The All Africa Festival is a one-of-a-kind African community, family, and cultural event focused on showcasing African culture around the world at its very best."

By Devina Divecha

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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All Africa Festival
Nina Olatoke, founder of All Africa Festival

With a wide range of events taking place in the UAE every week of every month, you'd think it would be hard to find a market that wasn't tapped into. And yet, the All Africa Festival, spearheaded by co-founder and CEO Nina Olatoke, stands out as a symbol of diversity and celebration. Having launched in 2018 at Dubai's Creek Park, the event places the spotlight on Africa's culture and heritage through a blend of music, cuisine, art, and fashion. As Olatoke put it: "The All Africa Festival is a one-of-a-kind African community, family, and cultural event focused on showcasing African culture around the world at its very best."

This year's edition of the Festival -which will take place in November at Etihad Park on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi- is supported by the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) as well as UAE Africa Connect (which represents the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs), and it promises to be an unforgettable experience for residents and visitors alike. "Here, in addition to enjoying the rich vibrant sound for which the continent is known through music, guests can immerse themselves in diverse offerings of pan-African cuisine, catch a glimpse of unique displays of live art and creative installations, explore the colorful flair of African culture through fashion exhibits from UAE-based designers, and so much more," Olatoke says.

Looking back on the event's origins, Olatoke says that the idea for it was born out of a desire to showcase the diversity and beauty of African culture to a global audience. "Africa, in our definition, is not just the continent, but her people who are all over the world, and in that light, we look to showcase African continental and diaspora culture," she explains. The reception to the festival, she says, has been positive, with support pouring in from all corners. "In a diverse landscape such as the UAE, people get it," she says. "We have also had support from UAE brands that understand the full value of the culture and people. Be it DCT, Miral [the UAE developer behind Yas Island], and UAE Africa Connect -as we have our first edition in Abu Dhabi- or Emaar when we were in Dubai, the UAE gets it."

In terms of the road ahead, Olatoke envisions the festival expanding to include even more cultural exchanges and collaborations. "As we look to the future, we need an expansion to connect the Emirati culture to this," she says. "Not only because the UAE welcomed this idea, but be it through some of our traditional sounds, arts or crafts like basket weaving, there are a lot of synergies between African culture and Emirati culture, and we are continuing to explore that in the future across all our pillars of music, food, art, and culture."

Related: With Its Focus On Artists From Africa, Dubai-Based Efie Gallery Makes Its Presence Felt In The Middle East's Art Landscape

Source: All Africa Festival

Eureka! Nina Olatoke on how to make an idea a great one

Greatness lies in execution, not ideation "Take a leaf out of Nike's book, and "just do it!" If we overthink things sometimes, we think ourselves out of great ideas. The worst that can happen is that you discover the right way to do it, by doing it the wrong way."

Find the right people "Surround yourself with people who can give you the right input and move you in the right direction. Sometimes, we only attach value to those who are investing money into ideas. But time is the biggest and most expensive investment as it can never return, no matter how much money you want to pay for it."

Embrace failure "We have definitely learnt more on this journey- for the moments that felt like we were failing, turned out to be our biggest wins."

Related: Yara Mersi's Dubai-Based Concept Oatful Has Launched The GCC's First High-Protein Overnight Oats

Devina Divecha

Writer, editor, emcee, and media consultant

Devina Divecha is an independent writer, editor, emcee and media consultant, specialising in the hospitality and F&B industry. With more than 10 years of experience under her belt, her work has appeared in a number of publications including Skift, SUPPER, HOTELSmag, Destinations of the World News, Spinneys Magazine, Entrepreneur Middle East, and more. She holds a BSc in Business from the London School of Economics and an MA in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield.

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