Yemeni Musical and Linguistic Heritage for UNESCO


A three-day international cultural seminar on the Ḥaḍramī musical genre of Dān was held in Cairo on July 5-6, 2019. The Yemeni Minister of Culture Marwan Dammaj contributed to the discussions intended to start necessary preparations for nominating Ḥaḍramī Dān music for inclusion in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Ḥaḍramī Dān is a genre of folk singing that is very popular in the governorate of Ḥaḍramawt, as well as other parts of Yemen and Indonesia. In one session, the Director of the Culture Office in Ḥaḍramawt, Ahmed bin Dowis, provided a presentation of Ḥaḍramī Dān. He described it as a component of Ḥaḍramī cultural identity, involved in praising, disparaging, description and wisdom. Popular bands of Ḥaḍramī Dān can be found in Tarim, Say’ūn , Daw‘ān and Shibām. For examples of Yemeni Dān, click here and here.


The seminar resulted in a decision to establish a consultative committee charged with finalizing the proposal by November. The committee consists of Jean Lambert, a French researcher specialized in traditional Yemeni music, Professor Scheherazade Hassan, a researcher at the Institute of African-Oriental Studies of London University, Dr. Ahmed Assyad, Yemen’s former Representative to the UNESCO, Dr.  Nizar Ghanim, a Yemeni musician and researcher and Dr. Samir Meqrani, an Advisor for UNESCO.

On the second day one session was held in which participants engaged in deliberations on the Ṣan‘anī Songs with the aim of nominating this genre for inclusion in UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.


Two work panels were also recommended to be set up to work on preparing the two dossiers of Mahri and Socotri languages to also be nominated for inclusion in the UNESCO’s Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A session was held to discuss working papers about the two indigenous South Arabian languages of Mahri and Socotri at the conference.

It was recommended to publish the working papers of the International Seminar in Cairo and the National Seminar held in Say’ūn last April in two separate books.