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    Yemen Requests Song of Sanaa Inscription on ICESCO Islamic Heritage List

    7 August 2020

    Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, Director-General (DG) of the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), received Thursday, August 6 Mr. Azzedine Al-Asbahi, Ambassador of Yemen to Morocco to explore cultural and heritage cooperation between the Organization and the country.

    During yesterday’s meeting, Mr. Al-Asbahi submitted to ICESCO’s DG a formal request from the Yemeni Ministry of Culture to inscribe elements of Yemen’s intangible cultural heritage on the Islamic World Heritage List (IWHL). The focus was on the “Song of Sanaa” (al-Ghina al-San’ani) and the “Palm Tree: traditions, skills and practices.” These two elements are on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. UNESCO added the “Song of Sanaa” and the Palm Tree File, a joined file from 14 Arab countries, to the list in 2008 and 2019, respectively.

    The DG welcomed the Yemeni request, promising to examine and submit it to the Islamic World Heritage Committee (IWHC) at the earliest. Dr. AlMalik added that the aesthetic features, beautiful rhythms, and unique lyrics of the “Song of Sanaa” are distinguishing features from other musical genres. ICESCO’s DG also described the palm tree as an authentic Arab heritage.

    The Yemeni Ambassador informed Dr. AlMalik of the current disconcerting state of heritage in Yemen due to the heavy rain in the country during the last period. He added that the inclement weather caused landslides in some historic sites and the collapse of four historic buildings in the Old City of Sanaa, which are included in the World Heritage List. Ambassador Al-Asbahi stated that the impact of climate change adds to a long list of dangers threatening the Yemeni heritage. He also explained that 74 out of 114 of the 500-year-old dragon tree, found in Socotra Island, are under the threat of extinction in the next 100 years if the environmental situation in the region persists.

    The two parties agreed on the importance of joint action to safeguard the Yemeni heritage, as a substantial addition to human heritage and civilizational legacy for future generations.

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