Ardah on UNESCO World Heritage list

Originally, the ardah was performed only by males of the Shammar tribe.

Originally, the ardah was performed only by males of the Shammar tribe.

The 10th session of a UNESCO committee, held in Namibia, has agreed to put the Saudi Ardah dance on the list of World Intangible Heritage.

Ardah is a type of folkloric dance. The dance is performed with two rows of men opposite each other, each of whom may or may not be wielding swords or canes, and is accompanied by drums and spoken poetry.

Originally, the ardah was performed only by males of the Shammar tribe of the central Najd region before going to war, but nowadays it is performed at celebrations, weddings, and national and cultural events by all tribes, such as the Janadriyah festival.

Adela bint Abdullah, chairwoman of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society (SHPS), said: “This success was a result of a complementary work between the governmental bodies represented by the Ministry of Culture and Information and the Ministry of Education through permanent representation at UNESCO and civil society organizations as represented by the SHPS.”

She added that the SHPS has worked with communities and individuals in the documentation and registration for this element with other elements of intangible heritage to protect this important aspect of heritage from extinction, indicating that the SHPS objective is centered on community and integrative work, dissemination of pride in identity, and preservation of the Saudi heritage.

“This experience is part of the cooperation between the SHPS and the Ministry of Culture and Information to prepare the files for registration in the World Intangible Heritage List, through the collection of material, its documentation and registration of its practitioners within its role as a civil society organization,” she said.


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