News 18 December 2017

Abu Dhabi Media has announced the launch of a show titled “Al Saha Tournament”, covering a new heritage competition for the art of ‘Al Ayala’ dance. The competition will be held annually at the Sheikh Zayed Heritage Festival and broadcast on Emarat TV starting from 20th December, 2017 at 6:30pm UAE time (5:30pm KSA).

The program aims to strengthen Emirati identity by highlighting one of the defining features of UAE heritage in the form of ‘Al Ayala’ dance. The show will encourage Emirati youths to compete for the best performance of ‘Al Ayala’ under the regulations of the competition, and will educate audiences on this unique art as well as the traditional authenticity of the dance.

The first stage of auditions is scheduled between 20 to 24 December, where the jury will identify the top 40 performances and qualify them for participation in the final stages that will air every Saturday, Monday and Wednesday starting from 30 December. The final episode announcing the winner will air on Friday, 26 January 2018 and will have a special time slot at 9:30pm UAE time (8:30pm KSA)

In the first stage, the 40 participants selected for qualification will compete in five alternating rounds until only 20 performers remain to proceed to the second round. The jury will then select the best eight performers to compete on the last day of the event, where the three winners of the program’s first season will be announced.

The prize for the first place performer is set to be AED 200,000, while the prize for the runner up is AED 150,000, followed by AED 100,000 for third place. The fourth, fifth and sixth place performers will each win AED 50,000.

 

About ‘Al Ayala’ dance:

‘Al Ayala’ dance is the most popular dance battle scene in the Emirati culture. It is performed by a group of men using sticks, swords or sometimes rifles to move in a specific motion to the beats of traditional musical instruments such as the oud and the goblet drum, which is made of ceramic and goatskin and often used as a percussion instrument.

 

The UAE successfully had the art of ‘Al Ayala’ listed as an intangible cultural heritage under UNESCO in 2014, after fulfilling the necessary international requirements in partnership with the Sultanate of Oman. It has also encouraged study into the art of ‘Al Ayala’, its practices and defining elements over recent years. This cultural practice is now set to grow more popular across the local community, including the younger generations who are now inheriting the art.

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