RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority concluded the third Diriyah House of Ardah initiative as part of its efforts to promote the ancient art form.
The ceremony was held at At-Turaif World Heritage Site to honor 10 finalists out of 80 participants.
Ardah is registered in the UNESCO List of World Intangible Cultural Heritage. The dance features a chant that was once used to rouse warriors facing an enemy. Performers, dressed in traditional costumes, dance with swords to the beat of drums. Combining poetry with masterful displays of swordsmanship, the Ardah represents Saudi loyalty and pride.
In cooperation with the National Center for Saudi Ardah, the initiative trains young people with the help of skilled performers in the art of Ardah to enhance their role in reviving the cultural heritage of the Kingdom.
The training program on Ardah skills is the first of two phases of the initiative, followed by an evaluation stage and a closing ceremony. Participants in the scheme are aged between 12 and 17.
The ceremony included a welcoming of guests at the gate of At-Turaif, followed by an anthem and a royal greeting before the beginning of the Ardah performance.
Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, delivered a speech after the opening performance.
He highlighted the commitment of the commission in preserving and fostering the cultural and historical identity of the Kingdom.
Inzerillo hailed the success of the initiative as well as the performers who took part in its third edition.
Dr. Badran Al-Honaihen, cultural and historical validation director at the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, discussed the history of the initiative before the closing Ardah dance and honoring of the winning performers.
“Diriyah contains a lot of important intangible heritage, but perhaps the most important of all of its heritage, without a doubt, is the Saudi Ardah, which has many details,” he said.
Abdulrahman Mohammed bin Sabtan, one of the performers, told Arab News: “I have been training for this for about three months. Thankfully, I reached the finals and won tonight.”
Sabtan, Faisal Al-Ghowainim, Mubarak bin Buraik and Ali Al-Shayeb were crowned winners of the scheme.
Many family members of participants were present at the event, with relatives eager to view the hard practice of the Ardah performers in action.
“The event was great. Everything was organized in terms of when it started and how it ended. Their reception was also nice. Everything was beautiful and called for pride in Diriyah and our traditions, especially since I am from Diriyah,” said Arwa bin Faris, a guest and one of the performer’s sisters.