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15 Apr, Monday
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Emirati traditional dish ‘Harees’ added to UNESCO Heritage List

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced that the popular traditional food Harees is now inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Harees is a porridge-like dish that is most often eaten during important family gatherings, such as weddings, as well as at national and religious holidays, particularly during the Holy Month of Ramadan.

During its eighteenth session in Kasane-Botswana, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO approved the inscription of Harees on the UNESCO Representative list. This decision was made after meeting the criteria outlined in the 2003 Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The United Arab Emirates led the Harees nomination file in collaboration with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Sultanate of Oman.

Sheikh Salem bin Khalid Al Qassimi, Minister of Culture, said: “The UAE is committed to the preservation of cultural heritage in all its forms, and has championed the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage which has the unique power to bring to life past traditions and knowledge from our ancestors. By ensuring to support communities and their heritage practitioners to carry forward historical legacies, the UAE’s leadership has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to intangible heritage at the national level and worldwide. The UAE has pursued a comprehensive strategy supported by ambitious and sustainable strategies in order for culture to be an exceptional language in its discourse with the world and its peoples. Our cherished heritage is also deeply embedded in our society, and across sectors. Its rich culture and heritage inform communities around the world about the country’s rich historical legacy and its Arab identity.

He continued: “This part of our heritage which has been inscribed on the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage continues to bring us closer as a people, as well as serves as a common link to those countries who share our heritage practices in the gulf, the Arab region, and international community. This also underscores the joint efforts of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, and the UAE National Commission for Education, Culture and Science, whose efforts to strengthen the Emirati identity are a source of inspiration and that serves the present and future generations.”

Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, emphasised the significance of the collaborative efforts between the Department and the Ministry of Culture in the UAE. Since signing the 2003 Convention on 2 May 2005, these efforts have been dedicated to preserving the authentic UAE heritage and ensuring its continuity for future generations. He added, “Our national heritage informs the rich Emirati cultural identity that we cherish and are so proud to share with the world. We remain committed to collaborating with our peers to engage with UNESCO, highlighting these heritage elements and solidifying their place within the broader spectrum of global human heritage. This commitment aligns with our overarching mandate to preserve and protect the unique history and cultural traditions of Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE.”

This addition marks the fifteenth element inscribed on behalf of the UAE on UNESCO’s lists, continuing a series that commenced in 2010 with the inclusion of falconry. Harees is prepared by cooking wheat in slightly salted water for several hours. Then meat – often lamb or chicken – is added and again cooked for at least four hours. The dish is then served with local ghee spooned on top.

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