Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.B.32

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the United Arab Emirates has nominated Al Talli, traditional embroidery skills in the United Arab Emirates (No. 01712) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Talli is a traditional handicraft practised in various parts of the United Arab Emirates. Today, the demand for Talli is at its highest before religious festivals (Eids) and the marriage season in the summer. Also known as Alseen, Talli is usually created with a combination of six cotton threads separated by a silver thread in the middle. These are skilfully woven into colourful shapes with symbolic meanings tied to life in the desert and at sea. A time-consuming craft, Talli is transmitted informally from mothers to daughters, as well as formally through courses and workshops held in schools, universities and heritage-development centres. The practice is also promoted during cultural events, festivals and competitions. The gathering of women in houses and residential neighbourhoods to braid Talli has a social dimension, as it provides an opportunity for social interaction and for the exchange of Talli knowledge. These gatherings also serve as cultural forums to share folk tales, proverbs and other verbal forms of the country's intangible cultural heritage.

  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:   Al Talli is a traditional handicraft practiced primarily by women. It refers to the art of embroidering women's clothes using brightly coloured threads neatly knitted into the sleeves and other parts of female robes. The element's bearers are mainly women, and men might engage in some support roles such as the procurement of raw materials for the braiding and making of Talli and the delivery and selling of the final product. The knowledge and skills are transmitted through workshops and courses in handicraft centres, and also through cultural events and festivals. The element helps in combatting unemployment by providing income for practitioners and jobs in associated areas, such as the selling of Talli threads to fashion and tailoring houses. The Talli craft has a cultural dimension that entails inscriptions, shapes and colours. These inscriptions and decorations serve as an important source for understanding life in the desert and at sea.

R.2:   As the element is a deeply rooted practice across many local groups and connected to other intangible cultural heritage elements in various areas of the United Arab Emirates, inscription will support local initiatives aimed at protecting other elements. At the national level, inscription will generate greater interest among local communities in this element as well as in intangible cultural heritage in general. At the international level, it will encourage experts and researchers around the world to conduct research on the United Arab Emirates' cultural heritage. Inscription of the element will trigger greater interest among the communities, groups and individuals concerned, encourage creative practices across communities, foster participation and promote exchange of knowledge and expertise.

R.3:   The file elaborates on past and current safeguarding efforts, which include activities by cultural heritage clubs and art and heritage societies. There were also various events and festivals featuring the element and Talli craftswomen. The State agencies supported the efforts by establishing heritage centres in public schools, which hosted lectures and workshops. The file also explains the objectives of the proposed safeguarding measures and elaborates on various activities, such as developing a strategic national plan for the traditional crafts sector, including the Talli, designing and developing a training programme for the element, and designing and developing an online Talli library. The Ministry of Culture and Youth will be the main coordinator of the measures. The communities, groups and individuals were involved in planning the proposed safeguarding measures through fieldwork, meetings, workshops and forums. Meetings and workshops were organized to discuss the challenges that bearers and practitioners of the Talli craft face. However, there was no information about monitoring and mitigating the unintended consequences of inscription, such as the effects of over-commercialization.

R.4:   The nomination process entailed the wide participation of communities, groups and individuals through a series of meetings, workshops and round-table sessions that were held in different parts of the country to discuss the nomination file. The draft file was also discussed at forums involving civil society and incorporated relevant comments. In addition, the draft file was sent to groups and communities across the United Arab Emirates for feedback.

R.5:   The element is included on the Emirates Inventory and the National Platform for Heritage and Arts. The inventories are maintained by various organizations and institutes, including the Ministry of Culture and Youth, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, and the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi. The national inventory list is prepared with the wide participation of individuals, groups and communities, including local communities, NGOs, research institutes and other expertise. The file outlines the various steps taken during the inventorying process. The periodic review of the Talli element is conducted annually.

  1. Decides to inscribe Al Talli, traditional embroidery skills in the United Arab Emirates on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Encourages the State Party to monitor the unintended impacts of the element's inscription, and in particular the risk of over-commercialization;
  3. Reminds the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to ensure that the communities concerned fully understand the purposes and objectives of the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding and the Register of Good Safeguarding Practices, and when submitting nomination files in the future, to avoid standardized letters of consent;
  4. Further encourages the State Party, when submitting nomination files in the future, to ensure that detailed information is provided in the file, including details about the communities concerned and the relevant inventories.