Saudi Khawlani Coffee, Camel Heda’a Added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity has been enriched on Wednesday with two new additions – Saudi Khawlani coffee and the skills and knowledge associated with its cultivation, and Camel Heda’a (Heda’a Al Ebel), Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Farhan announced.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage made the decision during its 17th annual session in Rabat, Morocco.

Camel Heda’a is a form of traditional oral expression and a means of communication between camels and their herders – which includes guiding camels to safety during sandstorms, instructing them to drop onto their knees to be mounted or to open their mouths to feed – and Saudi Arabia led the joint file to register it in cooperation with Oman and the United Arab Emirates.

According to a UNESCO statement, Heda’a is an oral polyphonic expression accompanied by gestures or musical instruments played by herders to communicate with their camels.

The registration of Saudi Khawlani coffee as the Saudi media underscored, involved the efforts of several Saudi bodies – gathered in a joint national team led by the Heritage Commission – including the Permanent Saudi Delegation to UNESCO, the Saudi Society for the Preservation of Heritage, and the National Committee for Education, Science, and Culture.

The cultivation of Khawlani – one of the most luxurious and famous types of Saudi coffee – in the southern regions of the Kingdom is more than eight centuries old and is connected with the customs of the people of the region, their poetry, songs, and their economy.

Passing on the skills and techniques to younger generations, the Khawlani tribes have been cultivating coffee beans for over 300 years. In Saudi Arabia, coffee is viewed as a symbol of generosity, and serving guests coffee beans harvested from one’s own farms is considered a sign of honor and respect.

Saudi Arabia has now 11 cultural elements registered with UNESCO – including the Majlis, Arabic coffee, the Najdi Ardah dance, the flute, falconry, the Asiri cat, the palm tree, the Sadu weaving craft, and Arabic calligraphy.

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