Last Wednesday, UNESCO's Intangible Heritage of Humanity Committee met in Bogota, Colombia, to decide on new additions to the list. The Arab world was at the centre of the debate as the date palm tree, and the culture that surrounds it, were officially recognized by the committee.
“Date palm, knowledge, skills, competencies, traditions and practices have played a central role in strengthening the links between peoples and the land in the Arab region, helping them to face the challenges of the harsh desert environment”. This was stated by the United Nations agency at the annual meeting of the Intangible Heritage Committee in Bogota, Colombia.
The aim is to pay tribute to the trees, symbols of the region, which have sustained entire populations in some of the world’s hottest regions. Among the countries concerned are Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Mauritania, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
Salutary for man
“Date palms congregate in oases of different densities in desert areas, indicating the presence of water levels suitable for irrigation. As a result, it has helped humanity to settle despite difficult conditions,” wrote the above-mentioned nations in their nomination papers.
Old as the world
The first date palms existed since 4,000 years BC and are believed to have appeared near Ur in southern Iraq, the former region of Mesopotamia. Considered a symbol of hospitality and prosperity in the countries of the Arab world, it is also, according to the United Nations, the oldest cultivated tree in the region.