Oman’s UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Oman has just had three new listings added to UNESCOs Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity inscriptions; adding to the existing four cultural listings.

Serving Arabic coffee is an important aspect of hospitality in Arab societies and is a tradition that dates back many centuries. It is considered a ceremonial act of generosity.

Omani Coffee being served
Omani Coffee being served

Naturally the coffee should be Mocha from Yemen. Coffee drinking etiquette is that the most important or the oldest guest will be served first, and then the coffee will be served to the right. The guest is served just enough coffee to fill a quarter of the finjan (a small cup) , and the cup can be filled again and again. The guest indicates he has had sufficient coffee by shaking the finjan from side to side. The common practice is to drink at least one cup (to accept the hospitality of the host), but not exceed three.

UNESCO Oman Majlis
UNESCO Oman Majlis

Majlis (literally translated as ‘sitting place’) is where members of a community gather. The Majlis is an ancient Arab tradition that has continued throughout the centuries. It remains an important institution for the maintenance of social coherence. The traditional Majlis is typically a large space, with carpets on the floor and cushions placed against the wall for people to recline on.

Oman Razfa dance
Oman Razfa dance

Al-Razfa is performed with variations in Oman. Originally performed to celebrate joyful community events the men make two rows facing each other, with an Assa (flexible walking cane). The rows may start small and then others join in. The men stand close to each other symbolizing unity. They act as a double-chorus, singing in an antiphonal manner. Their movement is controlled and synchronized by the rhythm, which is four beats.

Author: Tony Walsh

Book author including the current Bradt guide to Oman – edition 4

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