The traditional poetry of the United Arab Emirates has been included in the UNESCO intangible heritage list.
Al-Azi Emirate poetry was added to the list of intangible cultural heritage in need of protection by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi announced this on Saturday.
The decision was made at the 12th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was held on Jeju Island in South Korea.
Al-Azi is an important part of the cultural heritage, reflecting the culture of the UAE and the emirate’s society. Al-Azi poems are recited in a chant by a group without instrumental accompaniment at national and public events. Poetry praises the traditions and achievements of the people. The performance is focused on the singer and supporting artists.
“Al-Azi’s inclusion on the UNESCO list reflects the principles of our leadership aimed at supporting our cultural heritage,” said Muhammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the department.
"The inclusion of Al-Azi on the UNESCO list is one of the positive results of the in-depth research and documentary work that the Department of Culture and Tourism conducted to preserve the UAE’s cultural heritage and promote it internationally as an instrument of effective intercultural communication between the countries of the world," said Saif Saeed Gobas, Director General of the Department.
A number of other UAE traditional rituals and objects are also listed on UNESCO's intangible cultural heritage, including the Majlis collection, Arabic coffee known as gahwa, Al Razfa and Al Ayala performances, falconry and Bedouin poetry known as Al Taghrooda.
The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage meets once a year and studies the elements of heritage that are nominated for inclusion on the UNESCO list. The fourth session of the committee meeting in 2009 was held in Abu Dhabi.