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RIYAD: After a fruitful collaboration between 15 Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia and under the supervision of the Arab Organization for Education, Culture and Science, Arabic Calligraphy: Knowledge, Skills and Practices has been officially added to the UNESCO representative list of intangible cultural property. Patrimonium of mankind.
In addition to the importance of its use in religious texts, calligraphy has played a central role in the advancement of the Arabic language throughout history. For centuries it has contributed to the transfer and dissemination of Arab culture, customs and religious values, thus instilling a sense of pride and belonging to Arabs.
Calligraphy remains extremely popular and continues to be used by artists and designers in a wide range of media, including paintings, sculptures and even graffiti, or “calligraffiti” as it is called.
Visitors to the Kingdom can see the earliest forms of Arabic text in ancient inscriptions preserved in historic places such as the UNESCO World Heritage sites at AlUla and Bir Hima near Najran.
Symbol of Arab and national identity, Arabic calligraphy is deeply rooted in the fabric of Saudi history. In recognition of this cultural importance, the Ministry of Culture has designated 2020 and 2021 as the Year of Arabic Calligraphy.
Commenting on UNESCO’s announcement, Saudi Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan said: “We welcome the inscription of Arabic calligraphy, which is the result of the Kingdom’s defense. of this precious aspect of authentic Arab culture.
“Throughout 2020 and 2021, the Ministry of Culture has strived to preserve this important art form throughout the Year of Arabic Calligraphy, which has strengthened the Kingdom’s position as a plaque world hub of Arabic calligraphy and the arts.
The addition of Arabic calligraphy to the UNESCO list is a fitting end to the celebration of a year of this art form. It is the last cultural treasure with links to the Kingdom to be listed, after: Al-Ardah Al-Najdiyah, a traditional dance from the central region; Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a form of interior wall decoration created by women from the southern region; Almezmar, a group dance from the Western region; arabic coffee; date palms; falconry; and majlis, a place where community members come together to discuss local events and issues.
Initiatives launched during the Year of Arabic Calligraphy included a groundbreaking exhibition at the National Museum in Riyadh which shed light on the origins of the Arabic language, the development of calligraphy and the relationship between calligraphy, contemporary design and artificial intelligence.
The Ministry of Culture has teamed up with the Kingdom’s flag carrier airline, Saudia, to decorate two of its planes with a special livery highlighting the initiative.