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Arabic Dance

Al-Ayyala and Al-Razfa are traditional Arabic group dances of the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

The dances are accompanied with traditional music, and separate groups of male and female dancers are represented. The popular Arabic dances are distinctive in its music and dancing. Leather bagpipes, flute and drums are the instruments played during the performing art.

Al-Ayyala involves chanted poetry and drum music, and simulates a battle scene. Two rows of about twenty men face each other, carrying thin bamboo sticks to signify spears or swords. Between the rows musicians play drums, tambourines and brass cymbals. The rows of men move their heads and sticks synchronously with the drum rhythm and chant poetic lyrics. Other performers move around the rows holding swords or guns, which they occasionally hurl to the sky and catch. Girls wearing traditional dresses, tossing their long hair from side to side.

Al-Ayyala and Al-Razfa are performed during weddings and other festive occasions. Performers come from different backgrounds and age groups. Even young Emirati men like to participate in traditional dances, because it shows how much passion they have to maintain their traditions. The lead dancer is usually an inherited role and is in charge for training others. Al-Ayyala and Al-Razfa are inclusive of all social classes.

The Arabic dance Al-Ayyala is considered a victory dance, and it used to be performed after a victory in a tribal battle or after a successful pearl diving.

Even though Al-Razfa emerged among the beduins in the desert of Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi it has spread to cities, coastal areas and mountainous regions throughout the UAE. The performance is a dance of unity.

Arabic Dance and Unesco

Al-Ayyala and Al-Razfa are included in the Unesco cultural heritage list. Being part of this important list will contribute towards promoting the performing arts as part of the region’s national identity and the heritage of humanity as a whole. Additionally, this listing helps in transferring knowledge, understanding, and peace amongst the people of the United Arab Emirates.

Visit an Al-Ayyala or Al-Razfa performance!

The traditional dances Al-Ayyala and Al-Razfa are regularly performed at heritage villages in the country.

Al-Ayyala or Al-Razfa are also occasionally performed at the National Museums in each emirate, for example at Haq Al Laila.