UNESCO adds three Arab traditions to intangible World Heritage list

Amira Noshokaty , Friday 8 Dec 2023

The Palestinian dabkeh dance, birthday celebrations for the Prophet Muhammad in Sudan, and the art skills and Arab metal engraving are now listed on UNESCO's World Heritage list.

National Council for Cultural Heritage and Promotion of National Languages, Ministry of Culture and Information, Sudan, 2022

Palestinian Dabkeh

The dabkeh dance is usually accompanied by wind instruments and singing and is performed at celebrations and festivals in Palestine.

Dabkeh, as described by the official UNESCO website, is performed by a group of 11 people, regardless of gender, who all stand in a straight line or semicircle clasping hands and shoulders. The movements include jumping and stomping the ground with their feet. It is a means of expressing cultural identity.

The Prophet Muhammad's Mawlid (birthday) procession in Sudan

This Sudanese tradition begins 12 days before the actual birthday with thousands of people marching in procession, singing religious songs. Sudanese Sufi orders join in with their chants. Food and beverages are served.

Mawlid is celebrated by Muslims worldwide, including in Egypt. Other mawlids throughout the year commemorate the death anniversaries of famous Sufis and members of the Prophet Muhammad's family.

Arab metal engraving (gold, silver, and copper)

This signature art, which is native to the historic markets of Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen is now listed as the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

The skills which preserve this fine handicraft are deeply rooted in Arab countries. In Egypt for example, medieval Cairo is home to an entire market for coppersmiths, El-Nahaseen. The market has been recently revitalized by Fair-Trade Egypt and put in the spotlight by the Ministry of Culture at its program Sanaiet Masr (The Artisans of Egypt).

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