Decision of the Intergovernmental Committee: 18.COM 8.B.3

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Palestine has nominated Dabkeh, traditional dance in Palestine (No. 01998) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Dabkeh is a group dance in Palestine that is accompanied by traditional wind instruments and popular singing. Dabkeh is performed by eleven dancers, regardless of gender and age during festivals, celebrations and events such as weddings and graduations. The dancers stand in a straight line or semicircle, clasping hands and shoulders to indicate cohesion. The movements involve jumping and hitting the ground with their feet. The dance can be performed by professional groups or spontaneously in public squares and family yards. Most Palestinians know the dabkeh dance and practise it as a means of sharing their joy with family, friends and neighbours. The lyrics of the accompanying folk songs are in local dialects and express emotions related to the occasion, such as courage, strength and love. Dabkeh and the accompanying arts and crafts are transmitted informally, through one-on-one learning and training. Youth learn by participating in social celebrations where dabkeh is performed and by imitating adults. The practice is also transmitted through summer vacation activities, in schools and universities, and through existing audiovisual media and publications. Dabkeh is a means of expressing cultural identity, celebrating family occasions and increasing social ties.

  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:  Most Palestinians practice the Dabkeh dance, with singing and playing accompanying their celebrations. There are a large number of professional Dabkeh practitioners, including Dabkeh dancers, zajal singers, and yargul players. Other members of the community include zajal poets, yargul makers, researchers and collectors. Knowledge and skills are transmitted through one-on-one learning and training, and by participating in social celebrations and summer vacation activities, among others. Knowledge about the element is further maintained by trained practitioners belonging to popular training centres. The practice of Dabkeh dance and music produces a strong sense of local and cultural identity for Palestinians. The element is a means of expressing cultural identity and celebrating family occasions and it increases social ties between people. Dabkeh also promotes the use of traditional dress and local dialects.

R.2:  At the local, national and international levels, inscription of the element is expected to increase awareness about intangible cultural heritage and the 2003 Convention, foster safeguarding activities and international exchanges, and highlight the diversity of intangible heritage worldwide. Dialogue with communities was an integral part of the nomination process, and will continue with even more focused actions, especially with an intergenerational perspective. Inscription would also foster creativity, cultural exchange and respect for cultural diversity through increased participation in related local, regional and international celebrations, festivals and competitions.

R.3:  The element’s viability is strong and is safeguarded by its communities, who widely practice the dance at different levels. Experienced practitioners organize workshops, competitions, training courses, festivals and social celebrations. Formal training is also conducted, and NGOs have played an important role in safeguarding the element through documentation and knowledge dissemination. The nomination outlines a set of safeguarding measures that are already in their implementation phase. The measures focus on strengthening transmission and awareness, with the participation of schools, museums and government agencies. Documentation and promotion are also ongoing. Community participation is based on fruitful and long-term collaboration between communities, practitioners and NGOs. Their involvement in the implementation of the safeguarding measures will be continued.

R.4:  The initiative to nominate this element for the Representative List came from the traditional practitioners, a group of Dabkeh trainers and dancers working in the Dabkeh troupes. A series of preparatory meetings were held with assistance from the NGO Folk Arts Centre. Practitioners of the element were engaged in testing the national inventory registration form, and their intangible heritage was among the first to be included in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage. A committee of six practitioners was formed, and from within the Folk Arts Centre, a community representative worked on the nomination part-time for one month in 2020. Over the course of 2021, four online meetings were held. Local, regional and national media covered the nomination process, and NGO representatives prepared the nomination file. The nomination includes a variety of letters of consent from practitioners, researchers, academics and educators.

R.5:  The element has been included in the National List of Intangible Cultural Heritage since 2021. The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Ministry of Culture is responsible for this inventory, which is updated every two years. The element was identified and defined by communities on the open inventory platform.

  1. Decides to inscribe Dabkeh, traditional dance in Palestine on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity;
  2. Further takes note that Dabkeh is widely practiced in the region, recalls that inscription on the Representative List does not imply exclusivity, and encourages the State Party to consider a multinational nomination on an extended basis, in line with the principles of international cooperation and the promotion of mutual understanding of the Convention.