Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 17.COM 7.B.33

The Committee

  1. Takes note that the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen have nominated Date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices (No. 01902) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Typically found in deserts and dry, temperate climates, the date palm is an evergreen plant with roots that deeply penetrate the earth in search of humidity. Date palms grow in oases in desert areas with suitable water levels for irrigation. For centuries, many populations have been associated with the date palm tree, which has aided them in the construction of their civilizations in arid regions. The ancient historical relationship between the Arab region and date palms has enabled a rich cultural heritage that has been passed on through generations. Today, the communities, groups and individuals in the areas where the date palm has spread still maintain the related practices, knowledge and skills. These include caring for and cultivating the date palm tree and using its parts (leaves, fronds and fibres) for traditional crafts and social rituals. The date palm is also referenced in poetry and songs, among others. It has been associated with the region for centuries, constituting a key source of nutrition in addition to the associated crafts, professions and traditions. Due to its longstanding significance, the date palm is widely supported by local communities and various government agencies, leading to a noticeable expansion of its cultivation and increasing regional manufacturing workforces.

  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 date palm knowledge and skills can be summarized as follows: (a) nurturing the date palm tree; (b) traditional crafts; (c) social rituals and practices concerning the element; and (d) symbolic status and references in artistic efforts. In the Arab region, the element is an intangible cultural heritage that has been passed on through generations. The communities, groups and individuals in the areas where the date palm spread still maintain relevant practices, knowledge, skills and rituals. The bearers of the element include various communities, groups and individuals who possess date palm-related knowledge and skills or participate in relevant traditions and practices. The knowledge and skills are transmitted informally, through oral transmission and practice, and formally in schools and institutes. The file explains the various social and cultural functions of the element, such as its role as a vital source of food and income and in social gatherings and events, Islamic rituals, offering condolences, among others.

R.2:   Inscription of the element will enhance the awareness and visibility of intangible cultural heritage in general and of the element in particular among the general public and policymakers at the local and national levels. Similarly, at the international level, inscription will boost awareness of the importance of intangible cultural heritage among various communities, groups and individuals, especially for elements related to natural resources and environments. As a multinational nomination involving several states, inscription will enhance dialogue between various groups, communities and individuals. It will also encourage practitioners of the element to innovate and develop ways to preserve the element and foster creativity for date palm-related products.

R.3:   The submitting States describe existing and proposed safeguarding measures that are diverse and address the needs specific to their states. The file explains that States Parties will pay specific attention to reducing the impact of potential domestic and foreign restrictions, desertification and palm diseases, among others. In addition, the file provides details of proposed safeguarding measures, including joint and country-specific measures. In all submitting States, the file was prepared through inventory fieldwork, meetings, workshops and fora, ensuring overall consensus on the element. The communities, groups and individuals concerned played a pivotal role in providing relevant field information and materials and developing safeguarding plans. The communities, groups and individuals have also expressed willingness to implement the proposed safeguarding measures.

R.4:   The nomination file describes the involvement of communities, groups and individuals in several stages of the preparation process, including inventorying, participating in field gatherings, workshops and meetings, developing safeguarding measures, preparing the film and pictures, and reviewing the files and letters of consent. The file was completed by seeking the opinion of groups and communities from all submitting States. Various letters of consent from the communities concerned in each country were provided in the file. There are no confidential aspects in any submitting State or the existence of customary, social or cultural obstacles or restrictions that could prevent anyone from practising the element or accessing relevant information.

R.5:   In all 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. The element in each submitting state has been identified and defined in the inventories through the methods and mechanisms of the respective states. The file explains that the inventorying process was carried out by engaging all groups, communities, and individuals as well as NGOs.

  1. Decides to inscribe Date palm, knowledge, skills, traditions and practices on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Further takes note that the present nomination is the inscription on an extended basis at the international level, which replaces the element initially inscribed in 2019 (No. 01509) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  3. Reminds the States Parties of the importance of ensuring the widest possible participation of the communities concerned in planning and implementing safeguarding measures, and the inventorying process;
  4. Commends the States Parties for their cooperation in preparing the nomination file and the extension of the file to include more submitting States.