Emirati art Al Azi makes it to Unesco list
Al Azi, a traditional Emirati performing art, has received protection from Unesco. The poetry recital, performed at national and social events to instil pride, loyalty and national values, was added to the Unesco list of ‘intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding’ by a 24-country committee during its meeting on Jeju Island in South Korea on Saturday.
abu dhabi — Al Azi, a traditional performing art of the UAE, has been added to the list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) list of ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding’.
The decision was taken during the 12th meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which concluded on Jeju Island in South Korea on Saturday.
Al Azi is a significant and important cultural heritage performance reflecting UAE culture and Emirati society. The art of Al Azi depends on the repetition of poems without music or rhythmic instruments. It is practised at national and social events to instill pride, loyalty and national values.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCTA), said: “Al Azi’s inclusion in Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage In Need of Urgent Safeguarding’ list is reflective of our leadership’s directives to support our authentic cultural heritage, and to emphasise on its importance in building national identity and maintaining communication between different generations.
“In that context, Al Azi is an important performing art, which still enjoys wide public participation, highlighting its historical depth and its significant stature among elements of the UAE’s authentic heritage.”
The committee, which includes representatives of 24-member countries of the Unesco Intergovernmental Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, meets on an annual basis to monitor the implementation of the legal document ratified by 175 countries that have listed the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage in their national legislation. The 14-year old convention has enabled the launch of 140 conservation projects for living heritage in 107 countries.
Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general of the DCTA, said: “The inscription of Al Azi on Unesco’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding is one of the positive outcomes of the depth of research and documentation that the department of culture and tourism has conducted to preserve the UAE cultural heritage and promote at the international level, as a tool of effective intercultural communication among world nations.”
Unesco established its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity with the aim of ensuring better protection of important intangible cultural heritages worldwide and the awareness of their significance.