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Arabic Calligraphy Added to UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List

Arabic calligraphy's addition to UNESCO’s list is hoped to revive its as an art form, while preserving the Arab world’s cultural identity in the face of rapid globalization.

Arabic calligraphy has been added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. A cultural treasure of the Arab and Islamic world, Arabic calligraphy is finally being honoured for its pivotal role in the development of the Arabic language and its cultural and spiritual significance, thanks to the concerted effort of 16 Muslim-majority countries led by Saudi Arabia.


The art form’s addition to the list was officially declared during the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is currently being held in Paris until December 18th.


"Arabic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting Arabic script in a fluid manner to convey harmony, grace and beauty," UNESCO wrote on its website. "The fluidity of Arabic script offers infinite possibilities, even within a single word, as letters can be stretched and transformed in numerous ways to create different motifs."


Calligraphy has contributed greatly to the transfer of Arab culture and religious values over the centuries. Given the global shift towards digitization, however, calligraphy has been dwindling out of popularity, declining gradually over the past decade.


Its addition to UNESCO’s list is hoped to revive calligraphy as an art form and inspire new generations of artisans to learn the craft, while preserving the Arab world’s cultural identity in the face of rapid globalization.