Camel voyage pays tribute to ancient Bedouin art - GulfToday

Camel voyage pays tribute to ancient Bedouin art


Voyagers Mike Metzger, Jana Treeck and Shirley Wilkinson with poet Mahommad Atik Al Mansoori.

ABU DHABI: A group of-UAE based expats have embarked on a 12-day camel journey through the desert to pay tribute to the traditional Bedouin way of life.

Travellers Mike Metzger from the US, Jana Treeck from Germany, British expat Shirley Wilkinson and three camels set off on a 190-km journey on March 22 from Baniyas East and aim to arrive in Al Madam in Sharjah on April 3.

The journey pays homage to the historical Bedouin poetry form known as Al Taghrooda, which is considered one of the oldest Emirati cultural traditions.

Following the oral tradition of singing, Al Taghrooda was developed by Bedouin camel riders to help pass long hours during desert treks on camel back. The chanted poetry consists of short verses and its topics range from social issues to historical events, reflecting the singer’s devotion to loved ones. One of its most important traditional functions was to document the social and cultural history of the country.

“Our objective is to showcase and honour the extraordinary ancient Bedouin Taghrooda poetry traditions of the UAE deserts, a core aspect of Emirati cultural heritage that lives on and has prevailed for thousands of years,” explained group leader Mike Metzger, who completed a camel ride from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain to pay tribute to the founding father of the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in September 2018.

“We want people to understand the meaning and significance of this ancient poetry form and explore how we, as expatriates living in the UAE, can learn from this ancient tradition that has been passed on to so many generations,” he added.

The expedition includes nine stopovers in the heart of the desert, with each break highlighted by tribes performing customary Taghrooda ceremonies to welcome the voyagers.

Jana Treeck, a German expat who works as a Managing Director for the Dubai office of a UK-based research company, said that the journey has not been without challenges. “For the first few days we have been battling through sandstorms and rain but this has given our journey a very authentic feel to it and a real glimpse of the old Bedouin lifestyle and their way of traveling.

“This experience has given me very interesting insights into the history and cultural heritage of the UAE, has helped me to gain a deeper understanding of the country I live in and is bringing me closer to its people and the culture.”

Recently, an Innovation and Heritage Forum was held by The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center and Zayed University aiming to promote research activities related to heritage and innovation among university faculty and students.

Preservation of cultural heritage is among the primary concerns of contemporary societies. Its significance has both economic and cultural roots. Culture and heritage are meaningful for both personal and collective developments of an individual, said the Vice-President of Zayed University.

Professor Reyadh Al Mehaideb pointed out that the Faculty members from the Humanities and Social Sciences College drive their educational and research roles towards the UAE heritage.

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