Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 14.COM 10.B.3

The Committee,

  1. Takes note that Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen have nominated Date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices (No. 01509) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

The date palm has been connected to the regional population of the submitting States for centuries, serving both as the source of numerous associated crafts, professions and social and cultural traditions, customs and practices, and as a key form of nutrition. The date palm is an evergreen plant typically associated with dry climates, where the roots of the plant penetrate deeply into the earth in search of humidity. Bearers and practitioners include date palm farm owners, farmers who plant, nurture and irrigate the date palm offshoots, craftspeople who produce traditional products using various parts of the palm tree, date traders, creative individuals and performers of associated folkloric tales and poems. The date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices have played a pivotal role in strengthening the connection between people and the land in the Arab region, helping them face the challenges of the harsh desert environment. This historic relationship in the region and the element has produced a rich cultural heritage of related practices between people in the region, knowledge and skills maintained to this day. The cultural relevance and proliferation of the element over the centuries prove how committed the local communities are to sustaining it; this is achieved through collective participation in multiple date-palm related activities and numerous festive rituals, traditions and customs.

  1. Considers 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 knowledge, skills, traditions and practices related to the date palm are one of the main unifying cultural elements of the Arab World, representing the main cultural symbol of many communities, groups and individuals from the fourteen submitting States Parties. Having been a key nutritional source for many centuries, the date palm has been the source of professions, crafts and customs that include the planting of the offshoots, irrigation, pruning, pollination and date harvesting, festive rituals, crafts, folkloric games and songs, offering condolences and Islamic rituals, among many others. The related knowledge and skills are transmitted informally to future generations through stories, songs, legends, proverbs, riddles and even beliefs and are formally transmitted through school curricula.

R.2:   The common work by the fourteen submitting States demonstrates the strong potential of intangible cultural heritage to encourage dialogue. The inscription of the element would continue this path, contributing to increasing the visibility of intangible cultural heritage among the local communities and drawing the attention of these governments to the Convention. It could also encourage other countries, where the element is also practised, to potentially join the nomination in the future, and would reinforce collaboration and shared cultural features among the submitting States. Furthermore, the inscription of the date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices would boost awareness of the importance of intangible cultural heritage and its relation to natural resources.

R.3:   The past, current and proposed safeguarding measures by the fourteen submitting States are diverse and adapted to the specificities of each country without overlooking the cooperation between them. They include all kinds of safeguarding measures as defined by the Convention and are also aimed at promoting the cultivation of the date palm, protecting the regions and landscapes where it is cultivated, economic and agricultural strengthening of the communities and establishing and strengthening non-governmental organizations concerned with cultural heritage related to the date palm. The measures have been and will continue to be supported by the governments and the communities concerned have participated at many levels.

R.4:   The file was prepared through inventory field work, meetings, workshops, forums and an overall consensus in relation to the element. The communities, groups and individuals concerned therefore played an important role in providing relevant field information and materials. Despite contextual differences and the range of methods used by each State Party, collaboration between the communities, groups and individuals was effective throughout all stages of the preparation of the file, while ensuring an efficient allocation of relevant roles and responsibilities and emphasizing the role of women as major contributors to the related crafts.

R.5:   In all the submitting States Parties, the element was included in a national inventory, list or register of intangible cultural heritage between 2009 and 2018. Ministries of Culture, departments, institutes and agencies are the bodies responsible for maintaining and updating the inventories.

  1. Decides to inscribe Date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Commends the fourteen States Parties for an exemplary initiative of regional collaboration among countries sharing similar cultural heritage, recognizing the complexity of this effort and its importance for the Arab region;
  3. Encourages the States Parties to avoid top-down approaches in all stages of the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage by ensuring that communities are at the centre of all safeguarding efforts;
  4. Remindsthe States Parties that updating is an important part of the inventorying process and invites them to include detailed information in their next periodic report on the implementation of the Convention at the national level on how their inventories have been drawn up and 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.