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)


Dua Lipa denounces ‘Israeli genocide,’ calls for Gaza ceasefire

Dua Lipa denounces ‘Israeli genocide,’ calls for Gaza ceasefire
Updated 29 May 2024
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Dua Lipa denounces ‘Israeli genocide,’ calls for Gaza ceasefire

Dua Lipa denounces ‘Israeli genocide,’ calls for Gaza ceasefire

DUBAI: British singer Dua Lipa has taken to social media to denounce Israel’s military operations in Gaza as an “Israeli genocide” in an Instagram Story post shared with her 88 million followers.

The Grammy-winning artist, who has Kosovo Albanian heritage, also used the trending hashtag #AllEyesOnRafah that is being used online following Israel’s bombing of the Palestinian city.

“Burning children alive can never be justified. The whole world is mobilising to stop the Israeli genocide. Please show your solidarity with Gaza,” the singer wrote.

The singer shared a post on an Instagram Stories. (Instagram)

It is the strongest condemnation Lipa has made so far in Israel’s eight month bombing campaign that followed an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

In December, she wrote: “With each passing day, my heart aches for the people of Israel and Palestine. Grief for the lives lost in the horrifying attacks in Israel. Grief as I witness the unprecedented suffering in Gaza, where 2.2m souls, half of them children, endure unimaginable hardships. For now, I desperately hope for a ceasefire in Gaza and urge governments to halt the unfolding crisis. Our hope lies in finding the empathy to recognise this dire humanitarian situation. Sending love to Palestinian and Jewish communities worldwide, who bear this burden more heavily than most.”

Meanwhile, English singer-songwriter  Paul Weller, who performed in front of a Palestinian flag on his recent tour, spoke against Israel in an interview with British newspaper the Observer in May, saying: “Am I against genocides and ethnic cleansing? Yes, I am, funnily enough. I can’t understand why more people aren’t up in arms about what’s going on. We should be ashamed of ourselves, I think. One minute you’re supplying bullets and bombs and guns, and then you’re sending over food. How does that work?”


Elisabeth Moss turns British spy in action thriller ‘The Veil,’ alongside Lebanese-Palestinian Yumna Marwan

Elisabeth Moss turns British spy in action thriller ‘The Veil,’ alongside Lebanese-Palestinian Yumna Marwan
Updated 21 min 48 sec ago
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Elisabeth Moss turns British spy in action thriller ‘The Veil,’ alongside Lebanese-Palestinian Yumna Marwan

Elisabeth Moss turns British spy in action thriller ‘The Veil,’ alongside Lebanese-Palestinian Yumna Marwan
  • Lebanese-Palestinian actress Yumna Marwan plays suspected terrorist
  • Show explores the fraught, surprising relationship between the 2 women

DUBAI: US actress Elisabeth Moss — who made her name through prestige shows including “Mad Men” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” — is returning to television as a British MI6 agent in FX’s “The Veil,” available to stream in the Middle East on Disney Plus.

“I love the spy genre. I love all the spy franchises, but I don’t know if we’ve seen this kind of story on television before. At least, not in a while. For that reason, I am excited for people to get hooked by how fun, entertaining and global this story is,” said Moss in a recent interview with Arab News.

Elisabeth Moss is MI6 genius Imogen Salter. (Supplied)

The show explores the surprising and fraught relationship between two women who play a deadly game of truth and lies on the road from Istanbul to Paris and London. Moss is MI6 genius Imogen Salter, while Lebanese-Palestinian actress Yumna Marwan plays Adilah El-Idrissi, a suspected commander of a terrorist organization.

Imogen finds Adilah in Turkiye and convinces her to flee with her. During their journey, Adilah and Imogen bond in unexpected ways, while the rest of the world’s spy network hunt them down.

“‘The Veil’ is an action-packed and international drama. I think that’s the hook. And then, of course, there are these two characters at the center of it all. Imogen and Adilah are the emotional truth and the emotional heart of the story. I think we’ve achieved a great balance between the character drama and the complexity of that, as well as a lot of fun,” added Moss.

For Moss, all of 1.6 meters in height, playing an action hero did not come naturally. “I’ve done a fair amount of fight scenes before, but it’s usually on the defensive. Usually, I play a character who isn’t trained to fight.

“What was really fun and different about this was she’s a trained fighter, so she would have learned how to do the things she does and be quite good at them. That was really cool for me,” said Moss.

The actress took quite a few hits in the process, too.

“When there’s a huge, massive leap and fall, obviously I physically don’t know how to do that, so my stunt double would do that for me — but I certainly got pushed really hard.

“I actually fractured my back when we shot on the rooftop scene (in episode one), so we had to go back six weeks later and shoot that again. What you see in the show is actually our second attempt. We got really good at it by then,” she said.


Supermodel Bella Hadid celebrates Palestinian symbols, designers on social media

Supermodel Bella Hadid celebrates Palestinian symbols, designers on social media
Updated 29 May 2024
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Supermodel Bella Hadid celebrates Palestinian symbols, designers on social media

Supermodel Bella Hadid celebrates Palestinian symbols, designers on social media

DUBAI: US Dutch Palestinian supermodel Bella Hadid on Wednesday took to Instagram to explain the symbolism behind the keffiyeh print and spotlight designers who have “highlighted the Palestinian cause over the years.”

The catwalk star, daughter of real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid and US Dutch model Yolanda Hadid, made a powerful fashion statement on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival on May 23 by wearing a red-and-white dress inspired by the keffiyeh. The dress was designed by US designers Michael Sears and Hushi Mortezaie in 2001.

This week, the model shared pictures of the dress with her 61.1 million followers on Instagram, describing the ensemble as “a beautiful way to represent the history, labor of love, resilience, and most importantly the art of historic Palestinian embroidery.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Bella (@bellahadid)

 

She then explained the meanings behind the patterns of the Palestinian keffiyeh, noting that they symbolize various themes.

The olive leaves represent “strength, resilience and perseverance,” she wrote. 

“The larger part of the of the keffiyeh is the fishnet pattern which resembles the relationship between the Palestinian fisherman and the sea. It symbolizes abundance and grace,” she explained. “To many of us, the sea also means freedom, especially to Palestinians living in the West Bank (who) have no access to the sea due to restricted movement.”

Hadid added that the sea waves resemble the “strength and resilience” of those who “persevered after 73 years under military occupation and oppression.”

Some commenters have claimed that the sea waves actually represent olive leaves, which Hadid considers an “important symbol.” However, after speaking with Judeh Hirbawi, the founder of the Hirbawi Factory fabric manufacturer in Hebron, she says she learned that the pattern indeed represents sea waves.

The bold lines “represent the trade routes going through Palestine, which played a vital role in carving the history and rich and diverse culture of our communities,” the supermodel added. 

Her post also included a heartfelt message about her heritage.

“Palestine on my mind, in my blood and on my heart (sic),” she said. "Always… while I still have to go to work, even through this horror, to wear our culture makes me a proud Palestinian and I want the world to continue to see Palestine, wherever we go.”


Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert

Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert
Updated 28 May 2024
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Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert

Adele wears Elie Saab gown at Las Vegas concert

DUBAI: British singer Adele showed off a gown by Lebanese designer Elie Saab during her Las Vegas residency over the weekend.  

The Grammy-winning singer performed her 42nd “Weekends with Adele” concert in a sleek black, off-shoulder gown with a deep V-neck.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

 

“Captivating elegance, @adele graces the stage in Vegas in (a) … custom made Haute Couture gown,” read a post on the official Instagram page of Elie Saab.

Adele has previously chosen other designers from the region to wear during her residency, including Zuhair Murad and Georges Hobeika.

The residency is set to conclude in November this year.


Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store

Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store
Updated 28 May 2024
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Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store

Georgina Rodriguez collaborates with Faces Middle East beauty store

DUBAI: Argentine model Georgina Rodriguez took to social media to share images from her recent visit to beauty store Faces in Riyadh Park Mall.

The social media sensation – partner to football legend Cristiano Ronaldo – posted a reel on Instagram featuring moments from her trip to the store, captioning the post, “Beauty time with @facesmiddleeast,” along with a pink heart emoji.

 

 

Rodriguez can be seen getting an analysis with Faces’ skincare diagnosis machine and trying on several of the store’s products.

Rodriguez also took a moment to congratulate Ronaldo on Instagram Stories as the Portuguese footballer – who plays for Saudi football club Al-Nassr – set a new record for goals scored in a Saudi Pro League season.

The 39-year-old took his tally of goals scored to 35 after he netted two goals against Al-Ittihad on Monday night.