Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 13.COM 10.b.27

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Oman has nominated Horse and camel Ardhah (No. 01359) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Horse and camel Ardhah is practised across many regions of Oman. On Alardhah day (meaning the ‘day of the festival’ in Arabic), people gather around the racecourse to watch shows by horse and camel riders that reflect Omani people’s skill in dealing with and taming the animals. Traditional arts (such as the reciting of traditional poems) also accompany the demonstrations. Alardhah starts with a display of traditional acts, such as horses and camels lying down, riding standing up, joining hands with another rider at great speed, and other similar actions. This is followed by a display of horses and camels draped with decorative clothing and beautiful silver sets. Alardhah is associated with many social occasions in Omani society, such as religious and national celebrations. The practice is an integral part of the society’s culture in rural and urban areas and reflects great skill as well as people’s devotion to the care of animals. Alardhah involves both men and women and is an opportunity for traditional bands and craftspeople to display their talents. At the community level, Omanis organize Alardhah on various social occasions, which involve young people. Civil organizations also play a key role in transferring the related skills, and horse groups at the university teach students equestrian skills and how to perform Alardhah.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The nomination file clearly demonstrates that the traditional horse and camel riding Alardhah is a social and cultural activity in rural and urban areas in most provinces of Oman. The element is practised on festive occasions or for receiving guests and expressing joy. It is a source of pride in Omani society, embodying a message of respect and peace.

R.2:   The file demonstrates that the inscription of the element would raise the visibility of intangible cultural heritage associated with horses and camels worldwide, underline the importance of respecting animal rights and demonstrate the syncretism with other aspects of traditional culture, including traditional arts, songs or dances. It would provide new opportunities for exchanging knowledge and experience among various Alardhah practitioners and encourage the creation of more schools directed at transmitting intangible cultural heritage. Cultural diversity and human creativity would be promoted by highlighting the relationship between human beings and animals and creative ways of dealing with them.

R.3:   A coherent, diverse set of safeguarding measures is proposed, which covers several activities aimed at strengthening the transmission of Alardhah, its promotion and related scientific research and documentation. The viability of the element is ensured by the practitioners themselves through the transmission of knowledge from parents to their offspring and in training schools, while the engagement of many governmental organizations ensures financial and institutional support.

R.4:   The nomination of Alardhah was initiated by the practitioners and civil society. The file clearly demonstrates the active and continuous involvement of the community in its preparation. Each aspect of the element was carefully studied on-site with the participation of trainers, horse and camel riders and other experts. An online forum allowed for broad discussions about the nomination and supplemented a series of working meetings by practitioners and the committee drafting the file. The wide range of consent letters confirms the commitment of all stakeholders to safeguarding the element.

R.5:   In 2013, the element was included in the Omani National Lists, under the sections Traditions and Norms and Folklore Arts. The main body responsible for the inventory is the Ministry of Heritage and Culture. The relevant extract from the national lists and its translation into English are enclosed. The file includes detailed information concerning community involvement in the identification and inventorying of the element.

  1. Inscribes Horse and camel Ardhah on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Acknowledges the strong commitment of the government to safeguarding the element and invites the State Party to find as comprehensive and creative ways as possible to further involve the communities of practitioners in the implementation of the proposed safeguarding measures;
  3. Further invites the State Party to ensure that consent letters given by community members do not contain inadequate expressions, such as ‘inscription at UNESCO’, as these need to demonstrate the understanding of communities that they are in agreement with the possible inscription of the element on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  4. Reminds the State Party that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and also invites it to include detailed information in its next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level on how the Omani National Lists are regularly updated with the active participation of the communities, groups and non-governmental organizations concerned, in accordance with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.