Unesco nomination adds flavour to UAE heritage

Abu Dhabi, Dec 5 (IANS/WAM) The nomination of Arabic coffee to the Unesco Intangible Heritage of Humanity Representative List is a positive step that will help promote global cultural understanding, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) daily said.

“All three of these hold a significant historic value and are an integral part of the heritage of the Gulf region,” the Gulf Today said on Saturday.

Unesco’s Representative List includes forms of expression that testify to the diversity of the intangible heritage and raise awareness of its importance.

Al Majlis, Arabic coffee and Al Razfa have joined Falconry, Al Taghrooda and Al Ayala on Unesco’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, while Al Sadu has been inscribed on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in need of Urgent Safeguarding.

“There can be no doubt that these milestones promote cultural diversity, human creativity and dialogue among civilisations. Arabic coffee is a symbol of generosity. Serving Arabic coffee is an important aspect of hospitality in Arab societies. Traditionally prepared in front of house guests by men and women, it is also served by sheikhs and heads of tribes. The beans are roasted, ground with a mortar and pestle then brewed in a pot,” the paper added.

Al Majlis (sitting places) are community spaces where people discuss local issues, settle disputes, exchange news and be entertained, playing an important role in the transmission of oral heritage. The areas are usually large, comfortable and equipped with beverage-making facilities.

Elders with extensive local knowledge are the main practitioners, while judges and religious sheikhs adjudicate on disputes.

Al Razfa is a traditional performing art of the UAE and Sultanate of Oman that was initially used in victory celebrations. Now, it is a popular form of communal entertainment seen at festive events, involving groups of men holding wooden replica rifles while chanting verses, often featuring traditional Nabati poetry, to music. Sometimes girls participate by swinging their hair to the music.

To appeal to a younger audience, instruments and music have been adapted.

“Top UAE heritage officials deserve kudos for their relentless efforts to get these elements inscribed on Unesco’s representative list. The move is certainly a global recognition for the Emirates’ efforts to maintain and preserve the traditions of the past,” the paper concluded.

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