Abu Dhabi: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has added the traditional UAE performance art of Al-Azi onto the 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 on Jeju Island in South Korea.
Al-Azi is a significant and important cultural heritage performance reflecting the United Arab Emirates’ 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 instil pride, loyalty and national values.
Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, said: “Al-Azi’s inclusion in Unesco’s 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.
“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,” he said.
The Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding the Intangible Cultural Heritage meets once a year to examine the heritage elements and practices that are nominated for inscription on the Unesco List.
Its 4th session in 2009 was held in Abu Dhabi after which the UAE adopted a number of recommendations and issued decisions that contributed to Unesco’s journey towards achieving its key objectives.