Protecting intangible culture

Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism concludes national heritage workshops

One of the most culturally oriented destinations of ITB Asia is certainly Abu Dhabi. The emirate’s Department of Culture and Tourism has just concluded two national heritage workshops, exploring how to best protect intangible culture in line with UNESCO guidelines.

UNESCO plays a leading role in promoting the world’s diverse cultures and traditions and in helping states to preserve and enhance their cultural diversity by taking steps and measures to protect these cultures.

The two workshops, held on 10 and 11 September at Manarat Al Saadiyat, saw strong participation from government bodies and NGOs. The first focused on Al-Sadu, the traditional Bedouin technique of weaving camel hair, goat fur and sheep wool into fabric to create blankets, carpets, pillows, tents and to decorate camel saddles and belts. Al-Sadu was placed on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding in 2011. It is an important part of Emirati heritage and was crucial to the economic role of Emirati women during the Bedouin period. This traditional craft is being preserved through the cooperation of local communities, who ensure its survival with culturally appropriate methods.

The second workshop was dedicated to falconry, which is on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Falconry is one of the most important elements on this UNESCO list because it unites numerous cultures and peoples around the world. This workshop helped to raise awareness of the importance of falconry, the diversity of its practitioners and its cultural place across global communities.

Saeed Hamad Al Kaabi, Intangible Heritage Director at DCT Abu Dhabi said: “We are committed to preserving the intangible cultural heritage of the United Arab Emirates, particularly those practices included on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, which has gained special significance internationally. They are invaluable components of our shared culture and heritage, and are a source of great national pride”.