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These Revered Arab Items & Traditions Are Now Part of The UNESCO Cultural Heritage List

Arab culture is rich in heritage, culture, food, music, tradition, art, architecture and so much more. Steeped in tradition and history, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that it has had an influence over other cultures all over the world–most notably things such as food, calligraphy and more.

With that being said, UNESCO is recognizing that elements of Arab culture must be preserved and earlier this month, UNESCO, the United Nations’ dedicated body to promoting world peace through education, science, and culture, added 10 skills, recipes, and events, conceived in the GCC, to its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. From here on now, the things on this list will be persevered, protected, and forever upheld to avoid them being phased out and never noted in history.

Here are all the regional items, traditions and events that made it on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list…

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Alheda’a—Saudi Arabia, Oman, UAE

With its roots heavy in poetry, Alheda’a is a form of communication used by herders by mixing gestures and/or musical instruments to communicate with camels. UNESCO has recognized that this age-old practice is used to “train their camels to recognize the difference between right and left, to open their mouths when asked, and to kneel down to be ridden,” while also creating “a strong bond between the camels and their herders, as well as among the herders themselves.” This form of communication has been passed down over the course of many generations.

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Khawlani Coffee Beans—Saudi Arabia

The Khawlani coffee beans have been cultivated and their rituals preserved by the tribes that carry the same name over time that spans centuries. The technique and skill involved in harvesting these coffee beans have been passed down from one generation to the next and has become an integral part of Saudi culture, as stated by UNESCO, “serving guests the coffee beans harvested from one’s own farms is considered a sign of honor and respect.”

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Al Talli—UAE

Taili is a form of traditional Emirati embroidery that is “transmitted informally from mothers to daughters, as well as formally through courses and workshops held in schools, universities and heritage-development centers.” The embroidery is created by weaving six cotton threads split with silver in the middle.

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Date Palm Expertise—UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen

Dates are a huge part of the Arab diet, and their significance, and the wealth they bring to the region is highly valued. Now included in UNESCO’s list, the organization hopes to preserve and maintain “the related practices, knowledge and skills, and caring for and cultivating the date palm tree and using its parts (leaves, fronds, and fibers) for traditional crafts and social rituals.”

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Al Khanjar—Oman

Al Khanjar is the word used for a Gulf State’s traditional daggers, and is traditionally carried by men and attached around the waist to their thobes during religious or national ceremonies. It is a significant part of Omani culture, and is often decorated beautifully. Its belt and cover are usually made from leather, wood, embroidered cloth, or silver. Omanis have worn the khanjar for centuries.

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Mansaf is an acquired taste and is a dish made up of large pieces of meat (goat or sheep), boiled and brewed with spices in a special yogurt sauce, called Jameed and is usually served with rice. A traditional dish, the Jordanian element of culture is being celebrated on UNESCO’s list.

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Al Sadu Educational Programme—Kuwait

This is a pretty recent one, but on the Intangible Cultural Heritage nonetheless. Established in 2018, the Al Sadu Educational Programme aids and trains teachers in the art of Kuwaiti weaving. UNESCO recognized the “significant impact" on students and art teachers, many of whom have demonstrated a high level of manual ability and creativity in traditional weaving. It was added to the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices by the global institution.

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