- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi perfomers keep Unaizah traditions alive
- Date: 1st May 2014
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LEADER OF THE DAR UNAIZAH TRADITIONAL FOLKLORE GROUP, SALEH AL-FARAJ, SAYING: "Beating the drum must be uniformly done, because there is a musical tone, if anyone breaks the melodic voice, there will become a cacophony of sounds, so we all must beat the drum at the same time."
- Embargoed: 16th May 2014 13:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Arts
- Reuters ID: LVA7SW2CPAWCA0N5CJ385H2SM5AV
- Story Text: A group of performers, keen to educate young Saudis about their Unaizah heritage, hold weekly concerts in the ancient city
The Saudi Arabian city of Unaizah, in the Al-Qaseem province, plays host to a group of performers keen to keep their rich heritage alive.
Located approximately 300 kilometres north of Riyadh, Unaizah is a city rich in traditional art.
The Dar Unaizah traditional folklore group, of around 50 men, perform the traditional Samri dance native to Saudi Arabia.
Samri dance involves singing poetry while a drum is being played, with rows of seated men swaying to the rhythm.
Performers dance and sing about folklore and local customs.
A member of the group said it was important to pass on the art from generation to generation.
"We have taken the Samri art of our parents and grandparents in order to preserve it, and we train young generations after us to maintain it so it doesn't disappear, " Ahmed al-Theyab said.
New members agreed that it was important to preserve their heritage by learning how to perform the Samri dance.
"I am new in the group. I came to learn the Unaizah Samri one day a week in order to preserve our heritage," a student with the group, Ibrahim al-Turkey said.
An important element to the performance is the drum harmonies, with up to 60 people beating a drum at the same time.
Saleh al-Faraj , leader of the Dar Unaizah traditional folklore group, explained the importance of keeping the rhythm.
"Beating the drum must be uniformly done, because there is a musical tone, if anyone breaks the melodic voice, there will become a cacophony of sounds, so we all must beat the drum at the same time," he said.
A dancer with the group, Majed al-A'aka, said that this ancient art must never be lost.
"We have learnt the Unaizah Samri from our elders, we have learned it well. We pass it from one generation to the other. The next generation train and pass it to the next generation. This ancient art must not be lost," he said.
The Dar Unaizah group was started in 1976 and the group now holds weekly concerts as well as sessions to teach new members how to perform the ancient dance.
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