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Inclusion of ‘Al Talli’ in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list promotes UAE’s rich heritage globally

Dubai: Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and member of the Dubai Council, praised the UAE’s successful efforts to include the ‘Al Talli’ traditional craft in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

The addition of the ‘Al Talli’ craft to the UNESCO list was announced during a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, held in Rabat, Morocco from Nov. 28 to December 2, 2022.

Sheikha Latifa said the inclusion of ‘Al Talli’, a traditional form of Emirati decorative embroidery, in the UNESCO list reflects the UAE’s leadership in promoting intangible cultural heritage as well as Dubai Culture’s efforts to preserve the country’s traditional crafts.

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The success in adding ‘Al Talli’ to the UNESCO list reflects the efforts of the UAE’s cultural institutions to preserve the country’s distinctive heritage.

Promoting the UAE’s cultural identity

Sheikha Latifa affirmed that Dubai continues to strengthen its efforts to promote the nation’s traditions. ‘Al Talli’s’ addition to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list is an achievement that advances the continuity of this traditional craft. “The UAE and Dubai continue to introduce initiatives to protect the country’s tangible and intangible heritage as part of promoting its unique cultural identity and ensuring future generations are connected to the nation’s cultural roots.”

She expressed her gratitude to the Ministry of Culture and Youth, the National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, and the Dubai Culture team for their efforts to ensure the submission for ‘Al Talli’s’ inclusion in the UNESCO list was comprehensive and compelling.

“The success in adding ‘Al Talli’ to the UNESCO list reflects the efforts of the UAE’s cultural institutions to preserve the country’s distinctive heritage. Dubai Culture has introduced several initiatives to preserve Emirati heritage, promote the country’s values, and create an environment conducive for ensuring the sustainability of heritage industries.

“In recent years, the UAE has succeeded in including many elements of its heritage and culture in the UNESCO list. The addition of ‘Al Talli’ to the list will further convey the depth and richness of the UAE’s heritage to the global community. This achievement will also open new horizons for the development of the traditional craft and its use in various spheres of life, in addition to raising the UAE’s profile on the global cultural map,” said Her Highness.

Nurturing traditional crafts

Dubai Culture, in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Youth, submitted the application titled ‘Al Talli: Traditional Embroidery Skills in the UAE’ to UNESCO. The submission highlighted the importance and history of the craft in the country. More than 4,000 women practise the craft across the UAE, Sheikha Latifa said.

Through the Turath Centre for Traditional Handicrafts, the educational arm of the Al Shindagha Museum, Dubai’s largest heritage museum, Dubai Culture continues to preserve and protect ‘Al Talli’ by transferring the knowledge of the craft to future generations and raising awareness about its importance and history, as part of the Authority’s commitment to supporting traditional skills and knowledge.

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What is Al Talli art

‘Al Talli’ is a traditional form of embroidery practised almost exclusively by Emirati women, featuring decoration of collars, hems and cuffs of clothes using cotton or silk threads, intertwined with gold and silver threads. It is distinguished by intricate designs and vibrant colours inspired by the local environment. The most well-known ‘Al Talli’ designs include ‘Sayer Yaay’ (coming and going’), ‘Bu Khostain’ — or ‘Bu Futlatayn’ — (double strand) and ‘Bu Khosa’ or ‘Bu Futla’ (single strand).