Beyond sitting

The majlis opens a window to Emirati culture and the treasured values of our people

A family sitting in the majlis area at their home in Dubai. Pawan Singh / The National
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Described as “playing an important role in the transmission of oral heritage”, the majlis was one of the treasures added to the register of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UN cultural organisation, Unesco, last year.

This recognition highlights the unique and beautiful concept of the majlis. It's not just a "a place of sitting", as the literal meaning of the word suggests. It's a celebration of generosity, openness, unity and the exchange of ideas and information. The majlis serves cultural, social, educational and even political purposes.

This country may lack the great monuments of ancient civilisations, but the majlis connects us to the ways of our ancestors. It helps us unravel our past and understand the present. That is something worth cherishing and preserving. The majlis is also worth opening up to non-Emiratis, so everyone can better understand and appreciate Arabian culture.