UNESCO added Arabic calligraphy, a key tradition in the Arab and Islamic worlds, to its list of intangible cultural heritage on December 14.
A total of 16 countries, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen, applied for UNESCO.
“Arabic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting Arabic in a fluid manner to convey harmony, grace and beauty,” UNESCO said.
“The fluidity of Arabic writing offers endless possibilities, even within a single word, as the letters can be stretched and transformed in many ways to create different patterns.”
Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud welcomed the move and said it would “contribute to the development of this cultural heritage”, in a statement carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. .
Abdelmajid Mahboub of the Saudi Heritage Preservation Society, which participated in the proposal, said the calligraphy “has always served as a symbol of the Arab-Muslim world”.
But he lamented that “many people no longer write by hand due to advances in technology”, adding that the number of specialist Arabic calligraphers has dropped sharply.
The UNESCO listing “will certainly have a positive impact” on the preservation of the tradition, he added.
According to UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage “is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of increasing globalization”.
Its importance “is not the cultural manifestation itself but rather the wealth of knowledge and skills that are transmitted through it from one generation to the next”.