Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.32

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar have nominated Arabic coffee, a symbol of generosity (No. 01074) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Serving Arabic coffee is an important aspect of hospitality in Arab societies and considered a ceremonial act of generosity. Traditionally, coffee is prepared in front of guests. Coffee-making begins with the selection of beans, which are lightly roasted in a shallow pan over a fire, then placed into a copper mortar and pounded with a copper pestle. The coffee grounds are placed into a large copper coffee pot; water is added and the pot is placed on the fire. Once brewed, it is poured into a smaller coffee pot from which it is poured into small cups. The most important or oldest guest is served first, filling a quarter of the cup, which can then be refilled. Common practice is to drink at least one cup but not exceed three. Arabic coffee is made and enjoyed by men and women from all segments of society, particularly in the home. The sheikhs and heads of tribes who serve Arabic coffee in their meeting spaces, elderly Bedouin men and women and owners of coffee trading shops are considered the main bearers. Knowledge and traditions are passed on within the family through observation and practice. Young family members also accompany their elders to the market to learn how to select the best coffee beans.

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

R.1:   Preparing, serving and consuming Arabic coffee are an expression of hospitality, generosity and social etiquette; the element is practised and transmitted in all segments of society, while specialists for the preparation and service take on the role for special occasions;

R.2:   Inscription of the element could contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage, raise awareness of its significance, encourage dialogue and promote respect for cultural diversity and human creativity thanks to the multinational character of the nomination, cultural variations within the element, creativity in serving and utensils used, and a demonstrated linkage between heritage and sociability;

R.3:   The element is already recognized and promoted as an element of intangible cultural heritage, while newly proposed measures include initiatives to raise awareness of its significance as a sign of hospitality and as an integral part of the intangible cultural heritage of the four States Parties; they have been elaborated in collaboration between community representatives, stakeholders and governments;

R.4:   The submitting States provided ample information on the participation of communities, groups and individuals in the elaboration of the nomination file, even though only a part of the numerous letters of free, prior and informed consent testifies to the awareness of communities concerned that the nomination is a multinational one;

R.5:   The inclusion of the element in inventories of the four States Parties was carried out in conformity with the requirements of the Convention.

  1. Inscribes Arabic coffee, a symbol of generosity on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.