Al Yowla: Explore The Victory Dance of the UAE

Al Yowla is a folk art of Emirati origin that celebrates the colorful nature of authentic Bedouin life.

Emiratis performing Al Ayyala dance (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

Al Yowla is the most famous dance in the Emirates, performed on most occasions, and attracts the young generation of Emiratis, too.

It was derived from the Ayyala dance, which stands for courage, strength and equestrian skills, as the performers exhibit their skill in controlling the Yawla weapon with deftness and agility.

Al Yowla (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The dance is often performed at weddings, events and popular festivals and the dancer is called yawil. It is performed by young men holding a weapon over their head, or in front of them, and rotating it. It is performed alone, as a duo, or as a group of four using a stick (or weapon) in the arena of the Ayyala or Harbiyya dance.

A generation of young people who loved the art of Al Yowla developed and modernized it with showmanship, practicing with a wooden rifle to the accompaniment of music, modern rhythms and enthusiastic songs. 

The young generation performing the Ayala dance (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

In the past, men used real weapons, most notably the Al-Kind, the Felsi and the Al-Masharekh among others. They used to repeat Shallat without using drums and percussions. 

Today, they use a weapon similar to a ‘Kalashnikov’, which is hollow and kept free of ammunition to be lighter.

Emiratis performing Al Ayyala dance (2018) by Dubai CultureDubai Culture & Arts Authority

The performance of the art of Yowla was more difficult then, compared with today, due to the weight of the rifle.

It was an art that indicated the strength of a man: not everyone had the skill to perform the show Yowla, as it required the ability to balance one’s hand while rotating the weapon while the feet had to be in harmony with the popular chants of “Al Shallah”.

Explore more of the UAE's heritage:

Discover One of the Oldest Human Crafts

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Related theme
Dubai Culture
Discover Dubai's transformation from a fishing village to a creative capital
View theme
Google apps