Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 10.COM 10.B.33

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar have nominated Majlis, a cultural and social space (No. 01076) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Majalis are ‘sitting places’ where community members gather to discuss local events and issues, exchange news, receive guests, socialize and be entertained. The majlis is where the community gathers to resolve problems, pay condolences and hold wedding receptions. It is typically a large space with carpets on the floor and cushions against the wall. There is usually a stove or fire to prepare coffee and other hot beverages. The majlis space is open to all people and may be frequented by family members, tribes and inhabitants of the same neighbourhood, and other remote neighbourhoods. Community elders are considered true bearers, especially those with extensive knowledge concerning nature, genealogy and tribal history. Judges and religious sheikhs have special importance in the majlis as they adjudicate on disputes and clarify political, social and religious rights and responsibilities. Women have their own majlis, although some prominent women attend other majalis, which are particularly academic or literary in nature. Majalis also play an important role in the transfer of oral heritage, including folk stories, folk songs and ‘Nabati’ poetry. As majlis spaces are open to all age groups knowledge is mostly transmitted informally as children accompany community members on their visits. Through observing elders in the majlis, young people learn the manners and ethics of their community, dialogue and listening skills, and respect for the opinion of others.

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

R.1:   Transmitted from generation to generation in a non-formal way, majlis is closely integrated into the everyday life of various communities and segments of society; it encourages socialization, conversation, negotiation and reconciliation, entertainment and the enactment of various other elements of intangible cultural heritage such as oral expressions or festive events, thus fostering community bonds and a sense of belonging and continuity;

R.2:   By virtue of the element serving as a space of encounter and inclusiveness, a mainstay for the enactment of other elements and a junction of tradition and modernity, its inscription could encourage dialogue, promote respect for cultural diversity and raise awareness of the significance of intangible cultural heritage, while the multinational character of the nomination could contribute to the visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general;

R.3:   While ongoing safeguarding measures relate primarily to tangible aspects of majlis, those proposed focus on raising awareness, education on social etiquette and traditions associated with the element, its enhancement in order to attract the younger generation, and research and documentation; all parties concerned actively participated in the elaboration of safeguarding measures and the commitment of the States Parties to provide technical, organizational and material support is well documented;

R.4:   A wide range of parties concerned, including communities, non-governmental organizations and local and regional governments, participated in the nomination process and provided their free, prior and informed letters of consent, even though few made reference to the multinational character of the nomination;

R.5:   The inclusion of Majlis in inventories of all four States Parties was carried out in conformity with Articles 11 and 12 of the Convention.

  1. Inscribes Majlis, a cultural and social space on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.