Saudi Arabia’s Al-Qatt Al-Asiri added to the UNESCO list

Modern Qatt is now practiced by using synthetic paint and bristles. (UNESCO photo)
Updated 08 December 2017
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Saudi Arabia’s Al-Qatt Al-Asiri added to the UNESCO list

JEDDAH: Al-Qatt Al-Asiri was on Wednesday added to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Al-Qatt Al-Asiri is an art form deeply rooted within the identity of the southern region in the Kingdom, and practiced exclusively by women. It can be seen decorating the interior walls of guest rooms in Asiri homes.
Women draw geometric shapes and tribal symbols and paint them in vibrant colors to make their guests feel welcome. During the creative process, female relatives design masterpieces on the walls, bringing about a sense of solidarity between them.
The Saudi Heritage Preservation Society (SHPS), along with the Kingdom’s permanent UNESCO delegation, were participating in the 12th session of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage on Jeju Island, South Korea, when the news broke.
“We filed Al-Qatt with UNESCO back in 2016 and we continued to strive to provide further information regarding its intricacies until it was inscribed during today’s session,” Rihaf Qasas, SHPS project manager, told Arab News.
“I wouldn’t describe it as a struggle; we just had to collect enough data and fill in the gaps, and we did it.
“This is so important because it keeps this traditional art that’s existed for ages from being buried. It ensures this culture is documented for generations to come, and it acquaints the world with the magnitude of the Kingdom’s heritage,” Qasas added.
On their future endeavors with UNESCO, Qasas said the SHPS could only register one file every two years. The Janadriyah festival will be registered next year, and the Kiswat Al-Ka’aba (the Holy Mosque’s cloth) in 2020.
The most distinguished practitioner of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, Fatima Abou Gahas, dedicated her life to sustaining and teaching the art until her death in 2010.
 


Special services to aid pilgrims with special needs

Muslim worshippers perform prayers around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah on August 17, 2018 prior to the start of the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city. (AFP)
Updated 47 min 13 sec ago
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Special services to aid pilgrims with special needs

  • These guides provide clarification for issues concerning Hajj, Umrah, and the Qur’an in Braille language format
  • There are special vehicles for those who need to be transported from the Holy Mosque

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques has begun services to aid pilgrims with special needs during this year’s Hajj season. Among these services is a small talking watch for the visually impaired. These watches tell the time and prayer times via audio alerts.
Other services provided by the Presidency’s special needs department are allocated entrances to ease access to prayers. These are gates 63 and 68, which were built during the expansion period of the late King Fahd.
There are also specialized paths for pilgrims with disabilities in mobility and the visually impaired with their own dedicated entrances.
Other provisions include a pen that serves as a Qur’an reader for the visually impaired and elderly, and a service for holding and carrying copies of the Qur’an for those who are unable to hold them.
Another service is the distribution of canes for the blind and visually impaired to help guide their path while walking.
A device that assists in Tayamom (dry ablution) is also available.
The special needs unit will also distribute booklets on how to perform Umrah and Hajj, along with guides who can show guests how to pray and explain important rituals to be performed.