Riyadh Ardah: A martial dance celebrates Kingdom’s history, preserves its heritage

King Salman performs the Saudi Ardah with former US President Donald Trump at a welcome ceremony at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh. (AFP)
King Salman performs the Saudi Ardah with former US President Donald Trump at a welcome ceremony at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh. (AFP)
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Updated 23 September 2023
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Riyadh Ardah: A martial dance celebrates Kingdom’s history, preserves its heritage

Riyadh Ardah: A martial dance celebrates Kingdom’s history, preserves its heritage
  • Originally a martial dance, it was performed before significant battles and victories by tribes of the Arabian Peninsula
  • Nowadays the Ardah is performed during weddings, graduations, Saudi embassy events worldwide and Saudi National Day

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ardah, formerly known as the Najdi Ardah, holds global cultural importance. Originally a martial dance, it was performed before significant battles and victories by tribes of the Arabian Peninsula including the ruling family of Al-Saud.

The Ardah is a UNESCO-listed dance that combines traditional chanting, swordplay, and rhythmic drums. It was originally used to motivate warriors and embodies loyalty and pride in Saudi culture.




People perform the Saudi Ardah in Diriyah. (DGDA)

Sami Al-Shamrani, supervisor of the Heritage and Folklore Committee of the Culture and Arts Association in Jeddah and supervisor of the Arts and Heritage Club at King Abdulaziz University, said: “It’s a magnificent and exquisite form of performance art that melds dance, drumming, and poetic chants.

This art form is now an integral part of various significant events, both at the onset and conclusion of national gatherings, including concerts, national festivals, and royal ceremonies held to welcome dignitaries.”




People perform the Saudi Ardah. (Supplied)

The dance is performed on many occasions, such as weddings, graduations, various events organized by Saudi embassies worldwide and on the grand celebration of Saudi National Day.

The Ardah dance, known for its displays of strength, originated in the central region of Saudi Arabia, particularly in the Najd region. The tradition, passed down over generations, has been embraced by kings, princes and sheikhs.




People perform the Saudi Ardah. (Supplied)

According to Al-Shamrani, participants in the Ardah dance must wear the traditional Saudi dress, which includes the ghutra (headscarf) and agal (headband). They must also wear an ornamental gown called Saya or Dagla, while drummers wear Furmaliyah gowns. Attention is given to accessories like daggers, pistol holsters, and bullet belts.

Al-Shamrani said that due to deviations from the authentic essence of the Ardha dance, certain musical groups were denied permission to perform.




People perform the Saudi Ardah. (Supplied)

“A joint directive from the Royal Court and the King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives emphasized the importance of adhering to fundamental principles and established traditions. This includes preserving original elements, pillars, and poetic verses.

“Approval from the foundation is required for any creation of new verses. The Ardha dance is to be performed within its traditional elements, honoring this cherished and widely recognized dance,” he said.




King Salman performs the Saudi Ardah at the Janadriyah National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Riyadh. (SPA)

How many people participate?

Al-Shamrani said: “When the king and the crown prince are present, the assembly comprises over 150 to 200 performers, encompassing drummers and a poet responsible for conveying poetic verses to the performance segments.

“During celebrations and weddings, the performer count should not dip below 25 to 30 individuals, all (dressed) in their customary garments and paraphernalia,” he added. This includes musical instruments, drums, banners and swords, and apparel.




King Salman performs the Saudi Ardah at the Janadriyah National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Riyadh. (SPA)

How is the performance executed?

The Ardha is a collective endeavor, with participants arranged in rows, singing and performing together. The spectacle usually lasts 15 to 25 minutes, as described by Al-Shamrani.

He said: “During the Ardha, participants begin by shifting their shoulders toward their teammate’s shoulder. They then align their shoulders and lift their knees, followed by propelling their left shoulder over their teammate’s shoulder. This cycle of movements repeats throughout the performance, with the dancer maintaining the sequence.




King Salman performs the Saudi Ardah at the Janadriyah National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Riyadh. (Reuters)

“The poetic verses are passed from the first row to the opposing row, creating a poetic debate-like structure. This harmonizes with the vocal expressions and melodic rendition of the Ardah.”

Before the performance starts, the poet initiates a vocal call called muharrabah, accompanied by rhythmic beats. The rows converge, with the poet leading the chant and the drums setting the rhythm. The flag dancer starts the dance by spinning right, and the rows follow in sync.




King Salman performs the Saudi Ardah at the Janadriyah National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Riyadh. (SPA)

Al-Shamrani said: “Renowned poets, including Fahd bin Dahim, have penned poetic verses for Ardah. These poems, known for their wisdom and fervor, celebrate the Kingdom’s triumphs and have been passed down through generations.”

In Ardah, men use percussion instruments called Al-Tathleeth and strike them with bamboo rods. There is also a group of drummers who play larger drums called Al-Takhmeer, positioned behind them.




King Salman performs the Saudi Ardah at the Janadriyah National Festival for Heritage and Culture in Riyadh. (SPA)

The National Center for Saudi Ardah has guidelines in place for managing items like flags, drums, and other instruments.

The Saudi flag used in the dance routine should be at least 120 x 80 cm in size. It should be in good condition, not touching the ground or sagging. The flag bearer must be in parade uniform, carrying the flag on the left side but placing it on the right shoulder.




Former US President Donald Trump joins dancers with swords at a welcome ceremony at the Murabba Palace in Riyadh. (AFP)

In 2021, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority and the National Center for Saudi Ardah launched the Diriyah House of Ardah initiative. It aims to train young people in the art of Ardah with the help of skilled performers, contributing to the preservation and revival of the Kingdom’s cultural heritage.




Former President of France Francois Hollande performs the Saudi Ardah. (Supplied)


Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London
Updated 21 April 2024
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Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

Christie’s to hold ‘Art of Islamic and Indian Worlds’ auction in London

LONDON: Christie’s has announced a spring sale of “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets,” which will be presented during a live auction at the British auction house’s London headquarters on April 25.

“This season the sale offers a curated selection of 261 lots including four unique collections,” Christie’s said in a statement. “Illustrating the breadth of craftsmanship across 10 centuries, works date from the 10th century to the 20th century and cover a diversity of artistic traditions.”

The works include paintings, ceramics, metal work, works on paper, arms, textiles and rugs and carpets from across the Islamic world, spanning the Silk Route linking China to the West.

A number of private collections will be auctioned, including early Iranian ceramics from a private American collection, as well as Persian and Indian paintings from the collection of art specialists Charles and Regina Slatkin that features a rare work by the Bukhara artist Mahmud Muzahhib.

The carpet section of the auction “is led by Sultans of Silk: The George Farrow Collection, which is a comprehensive study of the very best of silk rug weaving of the late 19th and early 20th centuries gathered over forty years by the late George Farrow,” Christie’s said in its statement. The collection will offer more than 40 finely woven silk carpets.

 

 

According to Christie’s, Farrow was a British collector of silk rugs and his “expansive collection” comprises a variety of silk weavings from different origins.

Sara Plumbly, head of Islamic and Indian art at Christie’s, said: “We are delighted to offer a wide variety of works of art from across the Islamic and Indian worlds this season (and) we are particularly excited about three private collections, all with long provenance, that highlight the breadth and diversity of the artistic traditions of Iran — from Safavid textiles and painting to medieval pottery.”

Louise Broadhurst, international head of rugs and carpets at Christie’s, said the auction house “is honored to offer the collection of George Farrow, whose passion for antique silk rugs is reflected in the illuminating breadth of examples gathered over four decades, which include highlights rarely seen on today’s market.”

The “Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds including Rugs and Carpets” is open to the public ahead of the live auction from April 21-24 at Christie’s in London.


Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening
Updated 20 April 2024
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Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

DUBAI: French-Algerian actress Sofia Boutella turned heads at the UK premiere of her film “Rebel Moon — Part 2: The Scargiver” in London this week.

Boutella wore a black suit from British fashion designer Stella McCartney with a cropped satin blazer and low-rise straight-leg trousers. She styled her short, dark hair in loose waves, complemented by dramatic cat-eye makeup.

In the sci-fi adventure — a sequel to last year’s “Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire” — which debuted on Netflix April 19, a peaceful colony on the edge of a galaxy finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Kora, played by Boutella, has assembled a small band of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge, and must band together to fight the Motherworld.

Snyder previously spoke about the two-part epic space opera at Netflix’s Tudum global fan event in Brazil, where he showcased a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film, based on a concept he has been developing since college.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

“I’ve been working on this story for quite a while,” Snyder said on stage, according to Deadline. “It’s about a group of farmers on the edge of the galaxy that get visited by the armies of the Motherworld, who are the bad guys. The farmers have to decide to fight or submit.”

He continued: “I don’t want to give it all away, but if they had decided to fight, let’s say that was an option, they would have to travel around the galaxy to find warriors to fight with them. And so, it had us traveling quite a bit.”

Kora is not Algiers-born Boutella’s first role as a sword-wielding extraterrestrial. The actress, who at the age of 10 fled to Paris with her family during the Algerian civil war, is known for her breakout performance in the Oscar-nominated film, “Star Trek Beyond,” in which she portrayed the fierce alien warrior, Jaylah.


Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
Updated 20 April 2024
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Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

DUBAI: Lebanese designer Rami Kadi presented his latest haute couture collection on Friday in AlUla with star-studded guests. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

His summer/spring designs offered something for everyone. The dresses showcased a variety of necklines, ranging from halter gowns and plunging V-shaped dresses to off-the-shoulder styles, strapless designs and more. 

 

 

The dresses, crafted from fabrics such as tulle, chiffon and crepe, exuded voluminous, glitzy and metallic aesthetics. However, there were also satin options and simpler designs available.

 

 

The collection boasted a palette of pastel hues including pink, peach, blue, green, purple, and an array of other colors such as off-white, beige, silver and gold.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

The show was a collaboration between Kadi and AlUla moments. It was attended by Lebanese superstar Najwa Karam, Saudi actress Mila Al-Zahrani, Tunisian actress Dorra Zarouk, and Saudi influencers Nojoud Al-Rumaihi and Lama Alakeel.


Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles
Updated 20 April 2024
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Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

Hollywood Arab Film Festival: Showcasing Arab cinema in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES: The third annual Hollywood Arab Film Festival began this week, bringing the best of 2024’s Arab cinema to Los Angeles and giving fans a chance to see the films in theaters as well as introducing a new audience to the Arab world’s top talent.

The event, which runs until April 21, was attended by a number of celebrity guests including Egyptian producer and screenwriter Mohamed Hefzy, Tunisian actor Dhaffer L’Abidine, renowned Egyptian star Elham Shahin and Egyptian producer Tarek El-Ganainy.

 

 

At the event, Hefty said: “Arab cinema really needs a platform to tell our stories and to show who we are, our identity, our hopes and dreams, our pains, and all the different social topics that are tackled in some of the films that are being presented are maybe more relevant today than ever. So I think it’s a great opportunity to have this dialogue.”

Hefzy’s film “Hajjan” was showing at the event. It is a Saudi Arabia-based film directed by Egyptian filmmaker Abu Bakr Shawky.

“Hajjan is a film about a young boy who got a very special connection to his camel, who has a brother who was a camel jockey and races,” Hefzy said. “And, one day when something really unexpected happens to his brother, and shatters his world, it forces him to step into his brother’s shoes and become a camel jockey, and so starts racing himself.”

The movie is a co-production between the Kingdom’s King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, or Ithra, and Hefzy’s Film Clinic.

“It was a film made in Saudi Arabia with Saudi talents and actors with an Egyptian director, but with the Saudi co-writer and Saudi actors and shot mostly in Saudi Arabia,” Hefzy said. “So I think it’s, it was a great experience, and learned a lot about Saudi Arabia, learned a lot about the culture.”

The festival featured cinema from various Arab countries, presenting films from 16 different nations. Marlin Soliman, strategic planning director of HAFF, highlighted the inclusion of six feature films, ten short films and six student films.

Spanning five days, HAFF offered its audience a vibrant experience, including a red-carpet affair, panel discussions on filmmaking and diversity in Hollywood, and, of course, screenings of high-profile films.

The festival also saw several filmmakers singing the praises of Saudi Arabia’s expanding film industry.

L’Abidine, the writer and director of “To My Son,” said: “I’m thrilled to be back again with my second feature film ‘To My Son,’ a Saudi film… I think there is a great evolution of Saudi cinema that’s been happening in the last few years.”


Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week
Updated 19 April 2024
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Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

Dave Chappelle to perform at Abu Dhabi Comedy Week

DUBAI: US award-winning comedian Dave Chappelle is set to perform in the UAE at the Abu Dhabi Comedy Week on May 23, organizers announced on Friday.

The capital city’s first-ever comedy festival will run from May 18-26 at Yas Island’s Etihad Arena.

Chappelle will join a long list of comedians performing at the event, including Chris Tucker, Aziz Ansari, Tom Segura, Jo Koy, Tommy Tiernan, Kevin Bridges, Andrew Santino, Bobby Lee, Andrew Schulz, Bassem Youssef and Maz Jobrani.

With numerous accolades and awards to his name, including multiple Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards, Chappelle is renowned for his wit and fearless commentary on contemporary issues.

While May 23 will mark Chappelle’s inaugural performance in Abu Dhabi, he has previously captivated audiences with two sold-out shows in Dubai.