Algeria strives to list Raï music as UNESCO world heritage

Algerian Minister of Culture Malika Bendouda said that a Raï Festival will be held in Algeria.
Thursday 25/03/2021
Algerian Minister of Culture Malika Bendouda. (TAW)
Algerian Minister of Culture Malika Bendouda. (TAW)

ALGIERS--Algerian Minister of Culture Malika Bendouda confirmed that her country will re-submit by the end of March its application for Raï music  to be included by UNESCO on its as World Heritage list.

Talking to journalists on her recent visit to the Centre for Andalusian Studies in Tlemcen, the minister said that the ministry “is working to include this art in UNESCO’s world heritage list,” and that her meetings with the leading figures of this music genre, such as Massoud Belmo and Boutaiba Saidi, aim to show that “this heritage is an authentic Algerian heritage with a long history”.

The application for the listing of Raï music was submitted to the organising committee of the 15th session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Protection of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which was held virtually between 14 and 19 December 2020. But was withdrawn at the request of the Algerian Ministry of Culture, in order for it to add new elements to the application in line with the technical procedures required by the advisory bodies of the World Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation “UNESCO” before submitting it again in the next session.

Music experts believe Raï music is one of the most important artistic expressions to merit inclusion as part of the intangible heritage of humanity.

Algerian novelist Said Khatibi says in his book “Wedding of Fire,” in which he narrates the story of Raï music, “It was not easy, to look at the roots of this controversial type of music, which was initially taboo, but became later the other face of Algeria in the world.”

The minister also announced the launch of five national art festivals with the beginning of the month of Ramadan. She added that a Raï Festival will also be held because the most important icons of this art are in Algeria.