Khaliji the dances of Arab States of Persian Gulf - part I

 by Isis Zahara 2013

special thanks to Dalia AlChamary
Khaliji is an umbrella term for describing the  music and dance native to the Arab States of Persian Gulf ( Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE).
There are different styles of dance and music that could be called just as Khaliji, but in the Belly Dance comunity this term refers to one special dance from Saudi Arabia: the Al Nasha'at.
Although Al Nasha'at is called as Khaliji style between belly dancers there is a lot of other styles that come out of Gulf region.
Folkloric dance performed by the bedouin tribes of Arabia, specially the Shammr tribe. In the past was a war performance, but now is normally performed as part of the popular manifestations in celebrations and folk festivals.
The Ardha which is performed by men carring swords or canes is accompanied by drums and spokken verses. Sometimes there similarities between the Ardha and the Egyptian folklore Tahtib.


Is a men dance from the UAE which is danced carring a stick or a rifle. Also similar to Egyptian tahtib.

Al Nasha'at ( Khaliji)
Is a female dance style done with a decorative long dress called thobe Nashaal (this costume is actually considered oud fashion in the Gulf area but we still use it during khaliji presentations).
The name of the dance Nasha'at may refers to the hair movements as the arabic word nashaat means hair, but in another context can be translate to blossoming flower. Sometimes appear the term Nashaal as the name of the dance which means pickpocket and also can refers to the traditional movement done with the thobe.
"During the wedding party hired musicians play popular songs and younger women usually perform the traditional dances of their area, oftentimes wearing traditional dresses called thawb nashal. Most of the movements are from the shoulders and the head. There is a little shimmying in the shoulders, small drops with the hips, and gliding of the feet. One distinct movement is called na'ish, or tossing the hair, in which women loosen their waist-long hair and swing it in circles, which is considered a higher and more enthusiastic level of performance. Na'ish is said to have originated from the Bedouin tribes and is performed along the Gulf coast.
I don't know if that clarifies anything. Arabic can be misleading in transliteration--could be variations on the same root, could be two words that coincidentally both have nuun and sheen in them. I'm wondering if the "hair" etymology isn't simply a misunderstanding. Why would a dress be named after hair? The dress is simply a fancy improvement over what is worn normally, so the idea that it's a way to express that (as opposed to linking it to a dance that may or may not be done while wearing it) does seem plausible."
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab States Today: A-J by Sebastian Maisel and John A. Shoup
The Rhythm
The Al Nasha'at dance
The dance is based in the hair movement, special footwork, pickpocket of the thobe and unique gestures with hands and wrist - "The most basic movement of the dance is a limpy step with one foot flat and the other on the ball. This step might glide the dancer along sideways or alternate RLR pause, LRL pause. The body is very relaxed, hips are allowed to push back when lifting onto the ball of the foot." -  Lauren Haas for

The Saudi women are proud about their long hairs and is one of the most special moments in the dance to tossing the hair side-to-side to the point that the dancer's hair creates figure eights. These movements can be a representation of the sea waves as believes an antroplogist Melinda Smith married into a Kuwait family.The water and hair are connect as a symbol of fertility from Ancient times in the Persian Gulf.

In the following video is an example of the traditional al nasha'at interpreted by a famous singer, Leila Abdulaziz from Kuwait.


The costume
The traditional costume is a long dress called thobe nashaal which is possible to play with the fabric to cover the face, pickpocking the borders, cover the head ect...


Nice post..

Thanks for sharing such a valuable information...

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