Chairperson thanked the Vice-Chair for the detailed explanations of the different questions raised during the evaluation.
747.Thanking the Subsidiary Body for its comments, the delegation of Egypt remarked that it was said this traditional dance was linked to war and conflict, but historically speaking, everyone in the kingdom practised this dance to celebrate and express joy. Today, this dance symbolized happiness and is practised during weddings and national celebrations, with no association to war and conflict. The King and members of society in various parts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as in some neighbouring Arab countries, practised Alardhah Alnajdiyah. It had even been presented at the UNESCO Headquarters on three different occasions during various celebrations, most recently during a visit by the Crown Prince. This dance was thus extremely important to the country. The delegation added that not all countries had the ability to prepare files successfully, as some countries faced difficulties in understanding the criteria and lacked the capabilities to complete their files adequately. It hoped the Committee would respect the spirit of the Convention, as the goal was to achieve rapprochement between cultures and spread a culture of peace.
748.The delegation of Brazil thanked the Subsidiary Body for its precise evaluation of the shortcomings, but questioned the observation of the warring nature of the performing art in festivals, adding that in western culture, the poetry of the founding fathers of Homer and Virgil came from a tradition of war. Poetry in this warring tradition was transcended from classical poetry to the Nordic sagas and even some Shakespearean tragedies. This warrior tradition, transcended in poetry, had thus transformed into something totally different, a celebration of life and the courage of man facing the adversities of life. The delegation was convinced that this element contained this transcendence of a warrior past into a very positive life-affirming message. That was why it was practised throughout the country and a motive of pride for the people of Saudi Arabia. It wished to hear from Saudi Arabia in response to comments on the nature of this element, and also on the shortcomings of the file, and possibly how this be solved, perhaps using more information and different language. It was recalled that this was the second time Saudi Arabia had presented this element, and that it was a very important tradition in the country, adding that it had no elements yet inscribed on the Representative List. The delegation of Brazil would later present some amendments in order to suggest change the decision to a referral, so that the country could correct the shortcomings of the file and present the nomination again.
749.The delegation of Algeria thanked the Subsidiary Body for its work and for the quality of its recommendations. It recalled previous discussions about the sensitivities of certain cultural practices that were rooted in the traditions of countries and societies for many centuries and were certainly tainted from violence or war, as was the present case, but today had nothing to do with its warlike origin and had become an integral part of the spirit and culture of everyday life. As pointed out by Egypt, this tradition was practised by princes and kings, but also by the most humble people who participated during weddings and family celebrations. Moreover, it was presented in UNESCO, which would make it difficult for people of Saudi Arabia to understand how their heritage could be presented to UNESCO but not inscribed. That said, the delegation wished to hear from Saudi Arabia in response to the remarks made by the Subsidiary Body.
750.The delegation of Congo congratulated the Subsidiary Body for its pertinent examination, noting that this was the second time the nomination had been presented, which demonstrated the commitment of the submitting State and its attachment to the element. It therefore wished to hear from Saudi Arabia, and hoped that the Committee would consider a referral that would allow the State to revise the nomination rather than having to wait several years.
751.The delegation of Turkey fully associated with the remarks made by Brazil, adding that it recognized the serious work of the Subsidiary Body and appreciated its findings, but it also recognized that Saudi Arabia did not have a single element inscribed and were committed to do so. The delegation believed that they were willing to revise its nomination and was in favour of giving the State Party another chance to resubmit its file.
752.The delegation of Afghanistanremarked that this was the second submission of an element that had reinterpreted its past, which was disadvantaging the submitting State. The delegation explained that if we re-examined our past and the values and practices today, we would notice a definite evolution that related to all humankind. It was possible that some ritual dances of today had a religious origin with an element of fire, or perhaps even war, but what counted was how the element was practised in today’s society. For example, did it serve as a link to ensure cohesion between the different communities? It was clear that this dance, like others, brought joy today, and there existed dances that were not practised by women, but today they were also practised by women. These were thus developments to a traditional practice in a reinterpretation of the past. The delegation remarked that this was similar to the nomination by China yesterday. It also noted that the submitting State had presented the element in good faith in its description of its warrior character, adding that Brazil provided clarification in this regard. It believed that Saudi Arabia had the right to provide clarifications, and also benefit from a shorter delay, as suggested by Congo.
753.The delegation of Bulgaria subscribed to the Subsidiary Body’s position on this nomination, adding that it had discussed the file with the delegation of Saudi Arabia that admitted the shortcomings in the nomination. However, it was also impressed by its very strong commitment to improve the nomination file, and considering that Saudi Arabia did not have any elements inscribed, felt that the Committee might be in a position to encourage the nominating State by deciding on a referral option and inviting it to resubmit the nomination at the earliest possible stage.
754.Having studied the file, the delegation of Greece agreed that there were shortcomings in the file. However, as the submitting State did not yet have any inscribed elements, and also that this was the second time the nomination was being presented; the delegation felt that it would be useful to allow Saudi Arabia to provide some explanations.
755.The delegation of Tunisia was very much aware of the shortcomings identified by the Subsidiary Body. However, it wished to draw the Committee’s attention to the fact that this was an extremely important element for Saudi Arabia. It had deep roots across society and across the kingdom. It was a vector of joy, celebration and rapprochement between members of Saudi society, and also within the region with neighbouring societies. Moreover, there was a sense of how difficult it was for Saudi experts to elaborate the nomination, as gaps were clearly related to the methodology and not the actual substance of the information found in the nomination file. The delegation supported a referral in order to give Saudi experts an opportunity to redraft and resubmit the file at the next cycle.
756.The delegation of Peru supported the notion that the file be referred given the fact that this would be the first accepted nomination from Saudi Arabia, and like many of the observations made by the Subsidiary Body, considered the gaps more quantitative than qualitative. Thus, more information would be needed to support a further examination, which should be carried out in the shortest time possible.
757.The delegation of Uganda took note of the comments by the Subsidiary Body, but also noted in the eighth session in Baku that the Committee requested that each State Party submit only one file, and as such this was Saudi Arabia’s only file in this cycle. Knowing that it took a lot of time to prepare one file, the delegation supported the option of referral so that the submitting State might resubmit the file in 2015.
758.The delegation of Uruguay respected the recommendation by the Subsidiary Body, however, taking into consideration the importance and significance of this proposal to Saudi Arabia, its people and communities, it favoured a change in the draft decision to a referral.
759.The delegation of India supported the option for Saudi Arabia to be given another chance to resubmit the file at its earliest, and thus amend the decision to a referral. It noted the observations of the Subsidiary Body, but wished to hear the State Party respond to the observations so as to decide whether they could work to resubmit the file at its earliest.
760.The delegation of Saint Lucia remarked that the hesitation that appeared before the Committee was whether Saudi Arabia should come back in four years from now, which was in the current decision, or next year, in the case of a referral. The delegation saw no problem with Saudi Arabia resubmitting the file. However, what mattered was that Saudi Arabia did not receive a third negative recommendation. It was thus really important to make sure that the next submission was successful, adding that the Committee had to be very clear in its messages and in what it believed was wrong in the file that led the Subsidiary Body to make its recommendation. Initially, the delegation felt that it concerned the dance with the swords, but it also noted that there were dances with swords in several inscribed elements. The problem therefore appeared to be in the relation between the dance and the language in the nomination files. It was beautiful poetry, but even the most beautiful poetry, if it called for war made it difficult for UNESCO to promote. It was now understood from previously speakers that this element had evolved, and that the dance was now poetry performed during weddings and celebrations. The delegation sought more information from the State Party in this regard, but most of all, the information should be clearly described in the resubmitted file. It reiterated that it had no problem seeing the nomination resubmitted provided the Committee was very clear in its message, and that the State Party had a chance to obtain a positive recommendation.
761.The delegation of Nigeria found it noteworthy that two different Subsidiary Bodies had recommended not to inscribe the element. In addition, it was important to remain consistent with the integrity of past decisions. Referring to the issue of the referral, or a polite ‘no’, the delegation believed that there was a difference between ‘no’ and ‘referral’ in that a referral implied that technical details had to be provided by the State Party, but if this was not the case, then it would be a resounding ‘no’. The delegation added to the comments by Saint Lucia, suggesting that if the file received a ‘no’ in a subsequent submission, then there was a fundamental flaw with this file.
762.The delegation of Belgium remarked that it systematically tried to support an evaluation by the Subsidiary Body and its draft decision. It also had no problem with a referral for this file. However, it expressed surprise that at least three of the six Members of the Subsidiary Body did not support the draft decision.
764.The delegation of Saudi Arabia thanked the States Parties that had supported the nomination file, adding that it concurred with the many observations by the Subsidiary Body that not enough time had been spent on drafting the file. Hence its request for another year to work on it. As for the war-like aspect of the element, the delegation referred to the remarks by Afghanistan in which it was clearly indicated that this dance had – in the past – been an expression of joy after victory on the battlefield. However, it had changed over time and today it expressed joy at various celebrations, such as weddings and festivals. The delegation remarked that this was not specific to this dance as there were many artistic expressions that had been inscribed that were initially war-like but had evolved over time. The dance was therefore no longer related to war and was now a performance. The poetry used to be war-like, but now those poems are patriotic and full of emotion, and speak of love and affection for the Fatherland. The delegation concurred with the Subsidiary Body with regard to the administrative measures that were deemed insufficient, as was noted by Tunisia in which it was clearly indicated that the problem was not so much the intrinsic value of the element, but a shortcoming in the paper work. The delegation reiterated its request to have another year to work on the file, particularly as this was second time it had submitted the nomination and that it had yet to inscribe an element on the list.
765.The Chairperson noted that Brazil had proposed a number of amendments, inviting the Secretary to introduce the amendments.
766.The Secretary noted that the amendments pertained to criteria R.1, R.2, R.3 and R.4 in the current paragraph 3 with paragraphs 1 and 2 remaining unchanged, and including an amendment in paragraph 4. The amendment to the chapeau would read: ‘Further decides that the information included in the file is not sufficient to allow the Committee to determine whether the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List are satisfied.’ The amendment in R.1 would read: ‘Additional information is needed to identify clearly the nature and scope as well as the current social functions and cultural meanings of the element beyond its staged representations.’ The amendment in R.2 would read: ‘Given the nomination’s lack of clarity, information is needed to demonstrate how inscription of the element on the Representative List could contribute to the visibility of the intangible cultural heritage in general or raise awareness of its significance.’ The amendment in R.3 would read: ‘The nomination does not explain the safeguarding measures in concrete terms or demonstrate that they are oriented to safeguarding Alardhah and not heritage in general; further information is necessary to understand if they will effectively help to ensure the viability of the nominated element once its nature and scope are more clearly identified; demonstration of the involvement and contribution of national institutions is also needed.’ The amendment in R.4 would read: ‘Although several practitioners granted their free, prior and informed consent for the inscription of Alardhah, the participatory process for the preparation of the nomination is not clearly described; further information is necessary to clarify issues related to the communities indicated in the form and their free, prior and informed consent to the nomination.’ The amendment in paragraph 4 would read: ‘Decides to refer the nomination of Alardhah Alnajdiyah, Saudi Arabia dance, drumming and poetry to the submitting State Party and invites it to resubmit the nomination to the Committee for examination during a following cycle.’ In Brazil’s proposal, paragraph 5 would be deleted.
767.The delegation of Saint Lucia noted that the delegation of Saudi Arabia agreed with the comments made by the Subsidiary Body and recognized that the nomination file needed work in order to receive a better recommendation next time. Thus, the most important point was to ensure that Saudi Arabia did not receive a third rejection, and therefore it was important to be very clear about the improvements required in the nomination file. The delegation agreed with the paragraphs on referral, but felt that the other amendments did not help the State Party because they replaced the clear and specific recommendations by the Subsidiary Body on what needed to be improved, with general recommendations that were not really helpful. It therefore accepted to refer the file if all the other paragraphs were kept in their original language.
768.The delegation of Egypt supported Brazil’s amendments, adding that the delegation of Saudi Arabia recognized that the points raised by the Subsidiary Body were accurate and was thus aware of what needed to be done to improve its nomination file for the next cycle. Even though the amendments by Brazil were general, the delegation felt that the submitting State was aware of the need to improve the quality of the file, which was a prerequisite for inscription. As such the submitting State would do its utmost to inscribe the element.
769.The delegation of Ethiopia took note of the precise explanations provided by the submitting State, adding that it was clear it was well aware of the concerns expressed by the Subsidiary Body, and were committed to revising the nomination. The delegation was convinced that the State Party would work in cooperation with the Secretariat to resubmit their nomination at the Committee’s next session, which would bring about a successful outcome and inscription. It was further convinced that the State could manage to complete the revisions in the coming year, adding that the proposal of Brazil seemed very feasible. It thus strongly supported the amendment by Brazil for a referral and the addition of the paragraphs in their entirety.
770.Clarifying the nature of the amendment, the delegation of Brazil explained that the amendments proposed in paragraph 3 did not change the substance of the Subsidiary Body’s recommendations. They simply employed a different language, as the original language in the draft decision was more conducive to a non-inscription, i.e. in the use of ‘the nomination does not […]’. Thus, in the case of a referral, alternative language should be employed, but none of the changes modified the recommendations. The only major modification was the deletion of the original paragraph 5, which dealt with the question of martial sentiments and the connotations to battle. The delegation noted that the submitting State had clearly stated that this was not the case with the element. Thus, it could be part of the Chairperson’s oral report, as the message was well understood. The amendments were therefore considered constructive and in line with the Committee’s debates.
771.The delegation of Belgiumsupported the proposal by Brazil for a referral, but agreed with the wise words spoken by Saint Lucia. For example, in R.1, it wondered why the reference to the contours of its communities and the role of different practitioners should be deleted, especially as the Committee maintained that the communities, groups, and if applicable, individuals were at the centre of the Convention. The delegation thus wished to keep this paragraph. In addition, in R.2, the delegation felt that the statement, ‘it often contains general or repetitive information, and does not respond to the questions posed in the nomination form’ was a good one and proposed to keep it, as other States and researchers examining these files will at least learn lessons about how the criterion was evaluated. It therefore wished to maintain the suggestions and feedback of the Subsidiary Body online. It therefore agreed with Brazil to refer, but wished to retain in the text some of the observations by the Subsidiary Body.
772.The delegation of Algeria thanked all those that had provided comments, adding that there appeared to be a consensus. It also appreciated the effort by Saudi Arabia in accepting the remarks made by the Subsidiary Body. With regard to the amendments proposed by Brazil, the delegation felt they made sense, given the fact that the nomination was no longer rejected but Saudi Arabia was invited to revise its nomination, which it had agreed to do. With regard to criterion R.1, the delegation agreed with the remark made by Belgium regarding the role of communities. However in R.2, it sought to delete the sentence that made reference to general or repetitive information, as the file would be revised and resubmitted and therefore would not serve as an example to others, and was thus unnecessary.
773.The delegation of Brazil agreed with the suggestion by Belgium in R.1 to keep the reference to communities and the different practitioners, adding that it thought the reference to their consent in R.4 was adequate, but it accepted to maintain the original text. Considering the amendment in R.2, the delegation felt that the language used in the original text was particularly heavy. However, it did not seek to create a problem and agreed to maintain the original language if Belgium insisted.
774.The delegation of Bulgaria found that the proposal by Belgium was good, and with Brazil accepting it, the Committee now had to find the correct wording for the other two paragraphs. For instance in R.1, the delegation proposed, ‘additional nomination is needed to identify clearly the nature and scope of the element, the contours of its communities, the role of different practitioners, as well as the current social function and cultural meaning of the element, beyond its stage representations’. The Committee could also find suitable language for R.2.
775.Noting that there was almost unanimous support for the referral, the Chairperson proceeded with the adoption of the draft decision on a paragraph-by-paragraph basis. With no comments or objections to paragraphs 1 and 2, they were duly adopted. The Chairperson then turned to the chapeau of paragraph 3, as amended by Brazil, which was duly adopted. The Chairperson then turned to its sub-paragraph in criterion R.1.
776.The delegation of Brazil accepted the suggestion by Belgium in R.1 to bring back the element of communities.
777.The Chairperson felt that there was general consensus to agree with Belgium in R.1, which was duly adopted. He then turned to the sub-paragraphs in criteria R.2, R.3 and R.4, as amended by Brazil. With no further comments or objections, they were duly adopted. The Chairperson then turned to the proposal by Brazil to delete paragraph 5.
778.The delegation of Afghanistan proposed to delete paragraph 5 as it contradicted the adopted paragraphs.
779.The delegation of Saint Lucia failed to see the contradiction with the previous paragraphs, adding that this was a major argument for improving the subsequent file. The delegation remarked that although Saudi Arabia had provided remarks in this regard, the Committee was not considering the element, but the file, and thus wished to retain the paragraph.
780.The delegation of Belgium supported the proposal by Saint Lucia.
781.In response to the remark by Saint Lucia, the delegation of Afghanistan explained that the contradiction lay in the wording, ‘Invites the State Party, if it wishes to resubmit the nomination […]’, as it implied a rejection of the nomination file, when the decision was to refer the nomination. Thus, in the spirit of referral, the paragraph should be deleted.
782.The delegation of Egypt supported the deletion of paragraph 5, as suggested by Brazil and Afghanistan.
783.In response to the remark by Saint Lucia, and in the spirit of consensus, the delegation of Brazil proposed: ‘Invites the State Party, when reformulating its nomination, to exercise the utmost care to highlight the contribution of the element to social cohesion and dialogue.’ The remaining sentence on ‘martial sentiments and exhortations to battle’ could then be deleted, as this was clearly understood and could instead be included in the oral report.
784.The delegation of Algeria supported paragraph 5, as amended by Brazil.