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Monday, Apr 15, 2024

Ardah performer finds strength in traditional Saudi dance

Ali Shaker Al-Ghamdi, renowned for his skillful enactments of the southern Saudi ardah, is a prominent figure in this traditional dance that exemplifies strength and community cohesion.
Celebrating Saudi heritage, the ardah is performed on notable occasions like Saudi Founding Day, combining poetry and dance.

After sustaining a foot tendon injury during a performance at the Al-Janadriyah festival in Riyadh, Al-Ghamdi faced the prospect of never dancing again. However, his passion for the ardah, which began in his youth in Qarn Dhabi, his uncles' village, never waned.

Al-Ghamdi explained the regional nuances of ardah but emphasized the common threads: cultural pride and tales of bravery. Historically, tribal ardah was a call to arms, its synchronized movements echoing the atmosphere of battle. Today, although the ardah retains its martial essence, it is performed with joy and seen as an expression of manliness.

Working as a physical education teacher in the Baha region, Al-Ghamdi takes pride in his fitness, which ardah demands, and teaches the dance to those eager to learn. He humorously recalled a compliment he received at an Al-Janadriyah festival, equating his fitness level to that of Swedish footballer Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

For Al-Ghamdi, the pull of music is irresistible, urging him to dance in unity with its rhythms. He recollected a touching moment when an elderly, seemingly frail spectator was inspired to dance along with him, leaving onlookers in awe, and making Al-Ghamdi reflect on the transformative power of the ardah.
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