'Tourath': The Arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

World Heritage Day was marked this week, reminding global citizens to cherish important sites that can link us to moments in history and symbolise key elements of our culture.

Heritage is a word with a long history and a deep meaning. The English word as we know it is derived from an old French word, heriter, meaning to inherit. Before that, heriter came from the Latin word hereditatem, meaning to be an heir.

The etymology of the English word shows that it’s used to describe things, practices and places that have been passed on through generations. Heritage, therefore, is a form of inheritance – something left behind by older generations to newer ones.

The Arabic word for heritage is tourath, which comes from erth, meaning legacy. Tourath is a significant word, as it denotes all the different aspects of what is inherited, which could range from the cultural to the linguistic or even the sartorial.

Tourath is a noun, often used with an adjective to specify the different types of heritage, such as tourath al aabaa’a (ancestral heritage) or tourath al she’er (heritage of poetry). In the UAE, the word is often seen during Union Day as a reminder of the country’s origins, a time to appreciate what generations left behind for us to use and take forward.

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Hob is the Arabic word for love, but can be used in many contexts

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word helu translates, in English, to sweet

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Nashef is the Arabic word for dry, but has many connotations, depending on the context in which you use it

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word hurriyeh translates to freedom in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word tayeb can mean delicious or good, depending on the context

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word mustaqbal is best expressed as future in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Waqaa, the Arabic word for fall, can signify a loss of power, stature, health or grace

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Hudood means borders in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word rooh translates to spirit or soul in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word ain means eye in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Waraq, the Arabic word of the week means paper in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Bahr, the Arabic for sea, has a poetic lilt

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Kareem means generous in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Bab means door in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Eid means holiday or festival

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Najm means star for the night sky and cosmos, but also has plenty of other meanings, including ambition or fame

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Alwan, the Arabic word for colours, has many shades of meaning

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Akel can refer to home-cooked meals, embezzlement, fire and rust

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Jamal is the Arabic word for beauty, be it literal or figurative

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Herfe translates to profession or craft

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Tabiaa translates to nature and can frame landscapes and portraits

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Sehha is the Arabic word for health

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Ijaza is Arabic for holiday and shines in summer but is not stress-free

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Aamal is the Arabic word for work

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Al dahr translates to time

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Qalb is a word for heart, with poetic roots

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Lugha in Arabic translates to language in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Insaan means human being

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Na’eeman is an idiomatic expression used when someone has had a shower or bath, a haircut or had their beard trimmed

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word for life touches on eternity, death and accomplishment

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Qamar is the Arabic for moon

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word for strength or power is quwwa

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Burj is Arabic for tower

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word for sun is shams

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Sabr in English can translate to patience

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Hayba is the Arabic word for prestige

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic term al shay’e translates as ‘the thing’ in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word for road is tareeq

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word for read has mystical and scholarly connotations

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Istikan is the Arabic word for a type of tea cup

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word hanan means affection in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word atlal means ruins in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Kura is the Arabic word for ball, in all its forms

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Janaah in Arabic means wing in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word sana translates to year in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Qasida is the Arabic for poem, not poetry

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Ameer, the Arabic word for prince, which influenced another English title

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Nakhla translates to palm tree in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Al samt is the Arabic for silence

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Kalimaat translates to words in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Markaz is Arabic for centre

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Beshara is the Arabic word for good news

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Bayt is the Arabic for house or home

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Fann is the Arabic word for art, and can be either a verb or an adjective

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Isim, which means name, is made up of three letters, alif, seen and meem

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Dunya is the Arabic word for world

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Nazaafah translates to cleanliness in English

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Many traditions revolve around drinking coffee, including weddings, funerals and business meetings

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Fajr is the Arabic word for dawn

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Maghrib is the Arabic word for sunset

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic language is filled with idioms, quotes and colloquial quips involving the mirror

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Raei is the Arabic word for opinion

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Wa’ed is a multifaceted word for ‘promise’, as well as a female name

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Qussa is the Arabic word for story

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Sadaaka is the Arabic word for friendship

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Akhbaar is the Arabic word for news

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Rasem is made up of the three Arabic letters Rah, Seen and Meem. While it can simply mean a drawing or a sketch it’s also a malleable word whose definition can change depending on context and dialect – particularly between colloquial and classical Arabic.

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

As well as finishing a task, khatem denotes a deeper sense of finality

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Commonly translated to blessed, mubarak is used as a popular greeting on auspicious days

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

The Arabic word for lighthouse is also a term that has become closely associated with Islam

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Siyaam, the Arabic word for fasting is also connected to silence

'tourath': the arabic word for heritage comes from inheritance

Tawbah, the Arabic word for repentance, is also connected to Ramadan

A popular summer camp in the country also bears the word in its name, Nady Tourath Al Emaraat, which translates to Emirates Heritage Club. During camp, young people are taught skills and lessons passed down by elders, such as tying knots and catching fish with nothing but a line and a hook – practices that aren’t commonplace today. At the camp, children learn that all aspects of heritage passed down to them are important to maintain and preserve. It’s not just the skills they pick up, but also the bonds they create that enable tourath to become ingrained in younger generations.

But heritage is not just a reflection of the past, there is modern heritage too. Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi decided to mark some of the most important landmarks across the city with plaques.

These plaques read modern heritage and its translation al tourath al hadeeth – showing that tourath is not just about preserving the past, but also highlighting new creations worth embedding into a culture’s heritage, giving them extra attention and care.

They have been posted in 60 locations across the city, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Central Bank, Al Ibrahimi Tower, Zayed Sports City and the Main Bus Terminal.

“The modern heritage of Abu Dhabi serves as a reminder of our emirate, and our country, what we stand for, what we strive for, and for the legacy that we are creating for future generations,” chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, wrote in a column for The National.

“Together we must guard modern heritage, because of the value it holds in our collective memory as residents of this emirate, and because of the historical testimony it conveys in telling Abu Dhabi’s story through architectural and urban identity.”

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