10.COM 10.B.31

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the United Arab Emirates and Oman have nominated Al-Razfa, a traditional performing art (No. 01078) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Al-Razfa is a traditional performing art practised throughout the United Arab Emirates and the Sultanate of Oman. It is performed by men of all ages and classes during social occasions, such as weddings and national festivals. Male performers form two facing lines with dancers filling the space between. Led by the main singer, the two rows create a dual chorus, singing chants in an antiphonal manner to the accompaniment of drums and other instruments. Many chants are verses of traditional Nabati poetry, carefully selected to match the occasion. The dancers perform choreographed movements to the music while holding wooden replica rifles in their hands and in some cases, young girls swing their hair in time to the music. Originally performed as a communal celebration of victory, Al-Razfa is now widely popular as a form of entertainment. Practitioners have adapted musical instruments and composed melodies to interest younger audiences while maintaining the older expressions and oral traditions of the art. Performers may include heads of State and elders or very young children. Today, Al-Razfa is transmitted directly within the family through participation and observation at social occasions. The roles of individual performers are learnt by practice, while girls receive instruction from their mothers and older sisters.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria:

R.1:   Practised with variations throughout the two States Parties in the context of joyful community events, Al-Razfa strengthens the sense of belonging, identity and continuity of the concerned communities; its main bearers are male art troupes and ensembles drawn from interested community members, yet various social events include all other participants, irrespective of their age and social status; in some parts of the two States, young girls participate in the performance;

R.2:   The inscription of Al-Razfa as an element shared by the two States Parties would reflect and could further encourage awareness of the dialogical nature of the intangible cultural heritage; additionally, it could contribute to the visibility of traditional performing arts in general, while the identified internal dynamics of the element and its fusion of music and poetry could foster respect for cultural diversity and human creativity;

R.3:   Relying on the ongoing safeguarding measures taken by the concerned communities, stakeholders and governments, the proposed measures incorporate research and documentation, educational programmes, support to main bearers of the element, and promotion through festivals, competitions and other public events; the commitment of the two governments is confirmed through budget allocations, while the key role in implementation is assigned to art troupes and ensembles;

R.4:   The nomination file demonstrates an active and innovative involvement of communities in the nomination process, as well as a range of free, prior and informed consents provided by art troupes, individual bearers, non-governmental and governmental organizations; it would nevertheless have been preferable that a greater proportion clearly acknowledge the multinational character of the nomination;

R.5:   The element was included in 2007 in the Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Abu Dhabi, and in 2010 in the Omani National Inventory List; both inventories are drawn up in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.

  1. Inscribes Al-Razfa, a traditional performing art on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the States Parties when promoting the element on the international level to provide the translation of lyrics as much as possible.

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