Al Azi, art of performing praise, pride and fortitude poetry
Inscribed in 2017 (12.COM) on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding
Al Azi is a traditional poetry recital performed by a group of individuals without rhythmical or musical instruments. It consists of a full-rhymed poem based on traditional poetry and the lines of poetry are sometimes interposed with sayings and proverbs. Bearers and practitioners include the poet, performer, chorus and audience. The practice strengthens bonds and is connected with knowledge and practices related to nature. Al Azi was performed regularly by communities until the mid-1900s, when performances began to dwindle gradually. Due to development, thousands of inhabitants moved from the desert to urban areas, and the economic boom from 1970 to 1990 led to citizens abandoning employment in traditional sectors and the culture and arts associated with such activities. Another factor has been the enactment of State laws instead of traditional tribal customs. The number of poets has decreased greatly over the past twenty years. Despite these challenges, Al Azi has withstood extinction thanks to the efforts of a number of creative people and traditional art troupes. The practice enjoyed a revival several years ago when it was introduced into national events, with a highly successful theatrical production, and media coverage has helped revive Al Azi, encouraging more poets to compose Al Azi poems.