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UNESCO pays tribute to Saudi traditions

UNESCO tributes Saudi and Emirati traditions in updated Cultural Heritage list

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UNESCO in December added five new traditions to a list of international cultural heritage customs, including traditional activities from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity features types of expressions that attest to the diversity of intangible heritage and raise awareness of its importance.

From the UAE and a host of other countries, falconry was added to the list, with UNESCO describing it as “associated with conservation, cultural heritage and community engagement.” The art of falconry was originally a way to hunt for food and falconers traditionally develop a bond with the birds they breed, train and fly. Falconry is practiced in 60 countries, including Syria, Qatar, Hungary, Portugal and Mongolia, according to UNESCO.

From Saudi Arabia, the art of “Almezmar” was paid tribute to in the list.

A traditional practice of the Hijazi community, the dance sees men drum and move with sticks and is typically performed for national events and in family celebrations. It can involve as many as 100 men and boys and is usually set to chanting songs about love and gallantry.

The dance involves two rows of individuals who stand opposite each other while pairs of performers twirl large sticks in the center of the group.

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