Periodic reporting on the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Convention provides in Article 29 that States Parties shall submit to the Committee reports on the legislative, regulatory and other measures taken for the safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage in their territories. Current page presents the periodic reports and deadlines of a country: United Arab Emirates (see overview on all States Parties).

Periodic reporting on the implementation of the Convention allows States Parties to assess their implementation of the Convention, evaluate their capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage, report on their inventories of intangible cultural heritage and update the status of elements inscribed on the Representative List.

When elements are inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, the submitting State Party commits itself to take safeguarding measures aimed at strengthening the viability of the heritage concerned. Four years after inscription, the State Party reports to the Committee on the current situation of the element, the effectiveness of the safeguarding measures it has implemented, and the challenges it has encountered.


On the implementation of the Convention

Each State Party submits its periodic report to the Committee by 15 December of the sixth year following the year in which it deposited its instrument of ratification.

Report submitted on 15/12/2017 and examined by the Committee in 2018

Overview

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a country located on the Arabian Peninsula. It is a federal state composed of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain. The UAE is the country No (14), which ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on 2 May 2005. Since then, the UAE seeks to conserve its cultural elements, as well as keeping viability of their practice. This is achieved through efforts of federal Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, which was established in 1997, and Department of Culture & Tourism (DCT), Abu Dhabi, as well as many other authorities, institutions, centers and regional departments. All of them pay special attention to the ICH, especially compiling its elements on federal inventories including more than (800) elements up to date.
All these entities, including Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH), which was established pursuant to Law No (28) of 2005 and Law No (2) of 2011, on renaming it Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, then Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi), on 13 September 2017, after issuance of a decree by the UAE President on reconstitution of the Executive Council, are devoted to collect and document the ICH elements. This is with active participation by regional practitioners, heritage bearers, researchers, academic individuals and representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations. They seek also to promote the inventories by policies and initiatives in order to raise the levels of awareness of ICH importance at the local and national levels.
The issued laws give full mandate to the DCT Abu Dhabi to safeguard the heritage of Abu Dhabi emirate. Department of Culture & Tourism, Abu Dhabi has conducted a general survey and compiled an inventory of the ICH of Abu Dhabi emirate, and established an Archive Section for the storage and digitalization of field work materials, photos, tapes and documentary films. It also contributed to the draft for Law No (4) of 2016, on tangible and intangible heritage, for the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development together with culture departments in all emirates of the UAE are conducting a full survey of the ICH elements, with participation of (28) heritage societies, as well as many organizations and community individuals, with assurance to highlight the endangered elements that require urgent safeguarding in order to be effective in the field of cultural heritage. More than 2500 elements were collected through the survey. These concerted efforts between the Ministry and all culture departments in the emirates have contributed to extending ICH elements survey and inventorying measures to cover all emirates of the UAE and all fields of heritage. Accordingly, they are listed in two main inventories: The ICH Inventory for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the National Inventory. Inventorying measures are still underway in order to identify more elements of the intangible cultural heritage.
These elements are being supported by conducting more than 38 extensive studies for the purpose of getting more information about them. The inventories are being reviewed and updated periodically at intervals. The awareness of ICH is also being raised, through extensive studies, researches, and series of conferences, workshops, exhibitions, forums, and field training for university students on the modern methods and techniques of ICH elements field collection, with special focus on school students of different stages, who will be heritage bearers and practitioners in the future. The heritage encyclopedia thesaurus is being established under the supervision of experts and specialists.
On the other hand, UAE is devoted, since ratification of the 2003 convention, to introduce its national heritage through the elements inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. It also managed the efforts of some countries to submit multinational nominations reflecting their joint cultural, civilizational and human features.

Report submitted on 15/12/2013 and examined by the Committee in 2014 (originally due by 15/12/2011)

Overview

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a federal state composed of seven emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Fujairah, Ajman, Umm al Quwain and Ras al Khaimah. At the federal level, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development (established in 1972 by Federal Law No. 1I1972) is the body responsible for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in the UAE, acting through a dedicated Intangible Cultural Heritage Section within the Department for Heritage and Arts. A draft Law for safeguarding both the tangible and intangible Heritage of the UAE is being prepared. At the regional (emirate) level, the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH), established by Law No. 28/2005, has been superseded by the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA, Abu Dhabi) created under Law No. 2I2011; this body safeguards the intangible cultural heritage in the emirate of Abu Dhabi through its Intangible Heritage Department. Other relevant regional bodies are the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and the Departments of Antiquities and/or Tourism of Ajman, Fujaira, Ras AI Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain.
The development of human resources and training capacities for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage varies among the emirates. The UAE Ministry of Culture has set up a Diploma in Heritage in collaboration with UAE University; the University offers courses in heritage which may lead, in the future, to an undergraduate programme in intangible heritage. Degrees or certificates in Museum Studies and Heritage Studies are also available at three universities (American University of Sharjah, Zayed University, and Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi). The Heritage Directorate in Sharjah organizes intangible cultural heritage training courses, and TCA,Abu Dhabi organizes training sessions for researchers in intangible cultural heritage. For inventorying, the Ministry has organized training and workshops and provided funding for research in all emirates.
With regard to the documentation of intangible cultural heritage, at the federal level, the National Centre for Documentation and Research was established by Law No. 7I 2008. The Intangible Heritage Department (TCA, Abu Dhabi) continues to conduct intangible cultural heritage documentation and there are similar bodies responsible for this in the other six emirates. Other bodies involved in documentation include Bait AI Turath (House of Heritage) in Sharjah; the Zayed Complex for Herbal and Traditional Medicine Research; the Poetry Academy; the Emirates Heritage Club; and Ras AI Khaimah Museum.
The inventorying of intangible cultural heritage is undertaken both at the federal and emirate level: there is one federal inventory of intangible cultural heritage, the ‘National Intangible Heritage Inventory’, which covers all seven emirates. In addition, there is a comprehensive inventory of intangible cultural heritage for the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Abu Dhabi’. Other specialized inventories include the Inventory of Traditional Medicine (deposited at the Zayed Complex for Herbal and Traditional Medicine Research Centre) and the Inventory of Poets and Poetry (deposited at the Academy of Poetry, Committee for Festival and Cultural Heritage Programmes).
With regard to the national inventory, in 2009, the Minister of Culture established a Committee to compile a federal National Intangible Heritage Inventory to be held in the Intangible Heritage Section of the Ministry. An Inventory Committee was set up, comprising 24 representatives from the seven emirates, as well as intangible cultural heritage specialists. The Ministry organized training programmes and workshops, and provided funding for research in all emirates. The criteria used for inclusion are: (i) that the bearers and community consider the element to be part of their heritage, and it provides them with a sense of identity and continuity; (ii) the element belongs to one or more categories of intangible heritage; and (iii) the element still exists as part of the community and is transmitted and continuously recreated. The inventory also identifies intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding. The identification and description of intangible cultural heritage elements have been conducted through field visits and group discussions with community members, the bearers of this living heritage. Communities in all emirates participated in the national inventory. Participation is also sought from different tribal groups, as they have variations of the element.
The Intangible Cultural Heritage Inventory of Abu Dhabi is held by the Intangible Cultural Heritage Department of TCA, Abu Dhabi (formerly, ADACH). Initiated in 2003 as a General Survey of Abu Dhabi Heritage, in 2006 the survey was integrated into a more structured and systematic inventory. The criteria are similar to those used in the National Inventory. Although there is no special category for elements that need urgent safeguarding measures, priority for collection and documentation is given to elements under threat of disappearance (e.g. known only to elderly people or with very few practitioners). Non-governmental organizations, community groups and individuals participated both in the initial survey of Abu Dhabi heritage and in the making of the Abu Dhabi inventory. In 2006, ADACH established a Committee of about 30 men and women to work as a source group to identify cultural elements in the emirate. Non-governmental organizations, such as Emirates Heritage Club, and many well-known male and female heritage bearers actively participated in making the inventory and providing information about elements on the inventory list, through many meetings, interviews and the provision of documentation. The inventory is updated continuously through the work of committees and in response to community wishes and will be reviewed and updated every five years.
An important strategy to promote the function of intangible cultural heritage within society is the organization of intangible cultural heritage competitions. Most take place within related heritage festivals and exhibitions. They often include a special entry section for youth and have encouraged a wide range of heritage-bearers to share their skills with young people. For example, the annual four-day Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX) focuses on falconry and other hunting traditions, but also offers several heritage shows and competitions (e.g. Arabic coffee-making, Nabati popular poetry on falcons etc.), performances of traditional performing arts, and children’s games and songs. The annual Nabati poetry competition organized by the Poetry Academy has large cash prizes for the winners (the first prize is 5 million AED or US$1,363,000).
A number of community associations and non-governmental organizations are also actively involved in promoting intangible cultural heritage in the community (14 are listed in the report). AI Ain National Museum displays different intangible cultural heritage elements (e.g. related to dress, water resources, sadu weaving and falconry hunting equipment) and held several exhibitions during 2013 in large shopping malls in order to target young people. The Zayed National Museum (under construction) will have galleries exhibiting intangible cultural heritage elements. Heritage villages (open-air museums) have also been established in Dubai and Hatta. Cultural Clubs and Centres promote and support the transmission of intangible cultural heritage by organizing public performances. Dubai Culture and Arts Authority has three Heritage Centres to promote awareness of heritage among secondary-school students (reaching ca. 2000 annually). The media, particularly television, also raise awareness about important intangible cultural heritage elements and their role in contemporary society. This is the case especially for local networks, which enable local communities to share information.
Educational efforts reflect the collaboration of TCA, Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi Educational Council, as well as the Ministry of Education and focus on including cultural heritage into primary and secondary school curricula throughout the country. For example, traditional children’s games have been introduced into the school sports programme. Extracurricular activities involve inviting practitioners and bearers to explain their heritage in schools, and provide opportunities for children to exhibit and perform some of their heritage. The Abu Dhabi Educational Council (ADEC) along with TCA, Abu Dhabi and other organizations plan to teach children topics related to their intangible cultural heritage. TCA, Abu Dhabi established a Department of Education in 2012 and is developing a curriculum and appropriate educational material (books, CDs, videos, documentaries, manuals and brochures). Similarly, the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, has an agreement with Dubai Education Zone (DEZ) to develop heritage centres in primary schools.
As far as bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation is concerned, the TCA, Abu Dhabi (former ADACH) organized ten regional and international conferences, workshops and meetings attended by Gulf Cooperation Council states and some Arab countries. It also organized one international and one regional conference on the 2003 Convention, including inventory making and the revitalization of heritage as well as heritage and education. And, in collaboration with UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Section, ADACH organized an international workshop concerning the Training of Trainers in Abu Dhabi from 10 to 14 April 2011. The objective was for Arab States experts to be integrated into the Facilitators’ Network for the Global Capacity-Building programme, which aims to strengthen capacities for safeguarding intangible cultural heritage.
The UAE reports on one element on the Representative List: Falconry: a living human heritage (inscribed in 2010, and re-inscribed in 2012 on a multinational basis with Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Republic of Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Syrian Arab Republic). Inscription has greatly raised awareness of this element and of UNESCO’s role in safeguarding intangible cultural heritage. Since its inscription, membership in falconry clubs has increased by 40%, and the number of birds per member has risen from one to three. The Emirates Falconry Club (EFC), which has 3,000 members, plans to restructure the club into a large fully-integrated falconry heritage institution to be housed in a new purpose-built building. The Abu Dhabi Falconer’s Club was created by the Abu Dhabi General Association for Youth to promote falconry heritage, run breeding centres, designate outdoor spaces for falconry, and run programmes (in collaboration with other agencies) to train young people and teach them how to look after falcons. Several publications on falconry have been made available by heritage institutions and clubs, and falconry books have been translated into Arabic. The Zayed National Museum (2016) will be built in the shape of a falcon and one of the five galleries will be dedicated to falconry heritage. For the preparation of the present report, a meeting was held in AI Ain with representatives of falconry clubs, the UAE Environmental Agency, the International Association of Falconry and individual international falconers. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss progress on safeguarding measures and collect information that formed the basis for this report.

On Urgent Safeguarding List elements

Reports on each element inscribed on the Urgent Safeguarding List are submitted by the State Party on 15 December of the fourth year following the year in which the element was inscribed, and every fourth year thereafter.

Al Sadu, traditional weaving skills in the United Arab Emirates, inscribed in 2011

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2023

Report submitted in 2019 and to be examined by the Committee in 2020

Report submitted on 15/12/2015 and examined by the Committee in 2016

Overview

The Al Sadu element reflects the response of the Bedouin people to living in a harsh environment with limited natural resources available. The raw materials used in it are sheep’s wool, camel lint, goat hair, cotton and natural plant dyes. The traditional weaving techniques are practised and transmitted by older women, while men shear the sheep, collect camel hair and make ropes and other camel accessories. The collective gatherings associated with this element are also forums through which folk tales, proverbs and other oral heritage are transmitted. Although a symbol of the country’s identity, Al Sadu weaving has lost prestige in recent times.
Effectiveness of the safeguarding plan. The need for safeguarding measures is made clear and the degree of success enjoyed by the activities set out in the report is variable. In general, the measures aimed at strengthening transmission by bearers, and providing financial and technical support to practitioners for income-generating activities associated with Al Sadu and its products have been successful and have provided a regular income for them. A further project on providing wool and natural dyes is planned.
A small number of Bedouin families continue to practise the element as a means of earning a living but they are mostly elderly women. The measures geared towards more formal modes of transmission (e.g. training courses and craft centre activities) have been less successful mainly due to the skill’s difficulty and time required to acquire it, as well as other demands on young people’s time. Few trainees have continued with Al Sadu weaving as a full-time occupation. At present, the actual number of bearers throughout the United Arab Emirates is not known and surveys are underway in several regions to identify practitioners. In addition, the efforts have been geographically irregular (in part due to the federal character of the United Arab Emirates) and, for this reason, a national committee encompassing all seven emirates has been proposed to develop a national school syllabus on heritage while also responding to the needs of practitioners in each emirate. Moreover, awareness on the element was raised through media coverage and showcasing the element in annual heritage festivals and exhibitions. The profile of Al Sadu at heritage festivals has increased, although media coverage is reported to not yet be sufficient. Building a Sadu House to act as a workshop combined with a space for training, exhibiting and marketing products is seen in the report as an important safeguarding measure, but has not yet been achieved.
Community participation. There are many different communities and social actors in the United Arab Emirates directly involved in safeguarding activities, especially in continuing the practice, developing its economic role and in transmission and awareness-raising. Beyond the governmental bodies (e.g. the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Association) and state-based charity bodies (e.g. the Khalifa Foundation and Khalifa Humanitarian Foundation), these include professional organizations such as the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen’s Council and civil society groups such as the General Women’s Union. Among non-governmental organizations, the most heritage-oriented is the Emirates Heritage Club, and the Sheikha Amnah Heritage and Religious Centre is a women’s organization. Other relevant non-governmental organizations include the General Women’s Association, the Red Crescent, and the Girl Guides Association. Private companies (e.g. the Senaat Company and Etihad Airlines) are also active in sponsoring activities. Municipalities, communities and active individuals run additional safeguarding measures. Writing the report was led by Abu Dhabi TCA and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development and other state bodies. Eight civil society and non-governmental organizations and 55 bearers participated in its preparation and evaluation. For this purpose, four workshops (with up to 26 participants representing heritage experts, Sadu practitioners and trainers, and interested individuals) and a series of meetings and fieldwork discussions were also held between October and December 2015.
Viability and current risks. Although its situation has improved following inscription, the element still faces threats to its viability, in particular that many practitioners have abandoned the skill for more lucrative occupations and the relatively old age of most of them. Further, a decline in the traditional Bedouin lifestyle and generally improved living standards in the United Arab Emirates have impacted demand for Al Sadu products and finding new markets (e.g. modern camel racing, horse racing and tourism) is identified in the report as necessary. Ensuring the viability of the element requires raised awareness of its value, strengthened transmission to young people and in particular, developing a new function in society and economic role. The current risks to the element according to the report include among others: the age of the practitioners and a reluctance of young people to take up the practice; abandonment of the practice for other economic activities; the impacts of modern living; the cost of the raw materials and time-consuming nature of the production process; the introduction of cheaper look-alike goods in the market (using synthetic materials and non traditional methods); low awareness of the element and its cultural value; and the lack of festivals or other events to showcase the element.

Al Azi, art of performing praise, pride and fortitude poetry, inscribed in 2017

To access the description of this element, the original nomination file (form, consent of communities, photos and video) and the decision of inscription, please consult dedicated webpage.

A report will be due by 15/12/2021
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