The inspiration to Hyderabad Arts Festival (HAF) is Hyderabad and its people.

"Mera shehar logan soon mamoor kar Rakhya joon toon darya mein min ya Sami"
(Fill up my city with people, My God, just as you have filled the river with fishes)

These are the words of Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah, the founder of Hyderabad, who planned the city as an open city with no walls. It is this spirit of openness that gives Hyderabad its distinct identity, culture, cuisine and an enviable way of life. Even before the word 'Cosmopolitan' came into vogue, Hyderabad had imbibed the cosmopolitan nature.

For years people from across the world made it their home. One can see the Persian culture, Iranian customs, Turkish traditions and the British influence in the lanes and by lanes of the city. It was prospect of employment and enterprise during the Nizami rule and in recent years, development of industry, especially Information technology, that brought in many foreign nationals and people from rest of India. Few of them went back, but majority of the people who visited the city for various purposes stayed back. And the trend continues.

The city's appeal lies in its multi cultural ethnicity which has trickled down the centuries. Many of the rulers of the region allowed peaceful coexistence of different religions, and fostered solidarity. The dream of Quli Qutb Shah has well permeated across generations to become a part of the Hyderabadi Tehzeeb (culture). And HAF celebrates this spirit.