The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi has announced the inclusion of two key elements of UAE national heritage on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The traditional Aflaj system of water channels used for farm irrigation in Al Ain has been submitted as a UAE element of intangible cultural heritage, while the camel races have been submitted jointly with the Sultanate of Oman.
The inclusions of these submissions are a culmination of the joint efforts made by the Ministry of Culture and Youth and Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT) to showcase the UAE’s rich cultural heritage internationally and to preserve traditions for future generations.
The inclusion of these two items of cultural heritage on the Representative List will be awarded to the UAE at the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO, held virtually at its headquarters in Paris from 14 to 19 December.
To date, the UAE has successfully registered 11 cultural activities and traditions on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity through joint national, regional, and international submissions, strengthening the country’s position as an active member in the Committee.
Made to highlight intangible heritage, the list helps to demonstrate the diversity of cultural heritage and raise awareness about its importance, while helping ensure recognition of these national traditions and emphasising societies’ expertise.
Saood Abdulaziz Al Hosani, Acting Undersecretary of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, commented: “Abu Dhabi’s incomparable appeal as a destination is backed by a wide array of traditional cultural practices that enrich our lives. Our precious intangible heritage is an essential element of our appeal for both our visitors and residents alike. Including Aflaj and Camel Races in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List is a shared achievement that we cherish on a national and human level.”
The UAE has led many joint submissions, including falconry submissions with the participation of 24 countries worldwide, the date palm submission that saw the participation of 14 Arab countries, as well as submissions for Al-Ayyala, Al-Razfa, Al-Taghrooda, Sadu and Al-Azi.
Aligning with the directives of the country’s wise leadership in preserving the national heritage and safeguarding culture for future generations, the UAE is working to include Arabic calligraphy, camel footwear, and Harees in the next edition of the UNESCO Representative List.