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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

Authorities and parents warn young Emiratis over ‘offensive’ viral dance craze

A dance mimicking the traditional Yola dance is spreading fast online, offending some and provoking threats of prosecution from authorities.

SHARJAH // An online craze mimicking the traditional Yola dance has drawn criticism and warnings from authorities that children posting offensive videos were unaware of the consequences.

The Bedouin dance routine, which usually involves men spinning sticks, rifles or swords, is often used to celebrate the heritage of the UAE.

But memes featuring youngsters hiding their faces and replicating parts of the dance while hanging out of parked and moving cars have spread on Facebook and Twitter.

Salim bin Yaqout, a father of six in Sharjah, said following the trend could be dangerous.

“Children are blindly following their peers and trends they may have seen on social media,” Mr bin Yaqout said.

“It’s very dangerous, as some of these videos have been recorded in cars and on the roads.

“While it might have been fun to do it, they’ve put others at risk and should be punished for carrying out dangerous acts.”

The videos are set to the song Mutsawe by Emirati singer Eida Al Menhali.

Ali Al Katbi, also from Sharjah, said the dances were being promoted as traditional Emirati songs on social media but could be considered offensive.

“This has spread like wildfire between youth and younger children, thanks to social media,” Mr Al Katbi said.

“It does not relate to traditional songs and dances.

“Schools and parents should be raising the awareness of their children not to blindly follow everything they see.”

Seemingly innocent videos, many involving schoolchildren wearing veils or headscarves covering their faces, have caused outrage among some traditionalists, who claimed the footage was offensive.

Hasan Abdullah, 37, a father and Islamic studies teacher at a Sharjah school, said the measures needed to be taken to halt the spreading of the footage.

“There should be a strict law banning mobile phones inside schools,” Mr Abdullah said.

“If that was applied, it would have limited the circulation by pupils inside the premises.

“We need to highlight the negative aspects of these actions and hold those taking the videos accountable so as to limit this weird behaviour.”

Women are rarely seen in the short films but one shows a cat dancing to an Emirati song.

Some Twitter users tried to hijack the hashtag and undo the damage they felt the videos were causing.

Instead of the dance scenes they posted a video of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, talking about spreading the positive image of Emiratis.

Yaqoub Al Hamadi, a social counsellor for pupils in Sharjah, said the viral videos showed children had energy and creativity but said it needed to be channelled properly.

“The students went to great lengths to make these videos but there is no understanding of the consequences of their actions,” Mr Al Hamadi said.

“While it may be funny to their peers, it inadvertently affects the image of our heritage.

“They need to stop and think of their actions.”

On Friday, General Prosecution issued a statement warning that people who posted videos that went against the traditional values and morals of the UAE on social media would be prosecuted.

“Parents need to observe their children and direct their energies in positive ways,” Mr Al Hamadi said.

“They can be enrolled in heritage events and take part in traditional Emirati dances such as the Yola to deep-root our heritage in them.”

tzriqat@thenational.ae

* Additional reporting by Nick Webster