Traditional Saudi Dancing

The most traditional of dances performed in Saudi Arabia is the Al Ardha which is also known as the “Sword Dance.”  Al Ardha is in fact the country’s national dance and naturally will be performed by men.  Every national day and at very special occasions the Al Ardha dance will be performed and at those same special occasions, even King Abdullah will participate in the dance.  It is a national dance that the majority of Saudi men know how to perform learning at a very young age.  My own husband told me he has participated at times in this dance.


According to Wikipedia, this sword dance is based on ancient Bedouin traditions: drummers beat out a rhythm and a poet chants verses while sword-carrying men dance shoulder to shoulder. Al-sihba folk music, from the Hejaz, has its origins in al-Andalus. In Mecca, Medina and Jeddah, dance and song incorporate the sound of the mizmar, an oboe-like woodwind instrument in the performance of the mizmar dance. The drum is also an important instrument according to traditional and tribal customs. Samri is a popular traditional form of music and dance in which poetry is sung.


This first video depicts a performance of Saudis at a large shopping center in Dubai demonstrating the traditional drum and sword dances of the Kingdom.  It is typical for the  men to be in a line close to one another:

 This second video features a visit of then Russian President Vladimir Putin to Saudi Arabia and how he is greeted with the traditional Ardha sword dance.  You will see how he and King Abdullah join in with the motions of this dance as they walk:


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