Al Ayala dance

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A group of Emiratis perform a traditional Al Ayala 'stick dance' during a show at Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum in Al Ain

Al Ayyala dance also generally known as yowalah is a traditional group dance of United Arab Emirates, The dance is accompanied with traditional music, and a separate group of male and female are represented. Yowalah is distinctive in both its music and dancing. Leather bagpipes, flute and drums are the traditional musical instrument played during the dance.


Al-Ayyala is a popular and expressive cultural performance practised in north-western Oman and throughout the United Arab Emirates. Al-Ayyala involves chanted poetry, drum music and dance, 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 large and small drums, tambourines and brass cymbals. The rows of men move their heads and sticks synchronously with the drum rhythm and chant poetic lyrics, while other performers move around the rows holding swords or guns, which they occasionally hurl to the sky and catch. In the United Arab Emirates, girls wearing traditional dresses stand at the front, tossing their long hair from side to side. The melody has seven tones in an irregular repeated pattern, and the chanted poetry varies according to the occasion. Al-Ayyala is performed during weddings and other festive occasions in both the Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Performers come from diverse backgrounds and age groups. The lead performer is usually an inherited role and is responsible for training others performers. Al-Ayyala is inclusive of all ages, genders and social classes. Yowalah is considered a victory dance, and it used to be performed usually after a victory in a tribal war or after returning from a successful pearl diving. The dance form is included in Unesco cultural heritage list.[1]

Al Ayyala and UNESCO[edit]

UAE has successfully recorded Al Ayyala on UNESCOs Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage Items of Humanity in November 2014, in cooperation with Oman. Being part of this important list will contribute towards reviving and promoting Al Ayyala as part of the region’s national identity and the heritage of humanity as a whole. Additionally, this listing helps in transferring knowledge, skills, and the values of Al Ayyala from one generation to another - and contributes towards achieving respect, mutual understanding, and peace amongst the people of the UAE.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Al Ayala dance added to Unesco cultural heritage list". 27 November 2014. Retrieved 30 November 2016.

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