How Can Arts Boost The Economy

How Can Arts Boost The Economy

Kambala dance

By: Rogia al-Shafee

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - In this modern age of globalization, the arts and culture have turned into  products that can make figures in the countries’  national economies by converting these cultures and arts  into industries.

This can be attained by careful institutional planning away from the humble effort of individuals.

Drama, singing, handicrafts and music, cultural festivals and galleries can boost the national income if well organized and managed. Just let us recall here the huge incomes the cinema industry had generated to some countries. A few examples that can be given here are the cases of Hollywood in the USA, Polly wood in India and Egypt’s growing Media Production City in Cairo.

Cultural tourism has also become a lucrative business now. The same applies to music and folklore festivals and musical recordings.

Dr. Abdelgadir Salim

On the occasion of the convening of the First National Economic Conference, Sudanow had had a talk with Chairman of the Musical and Artistic Professions, Dr. Abdelgadir Salim, on what the different arts can do to generate badly need foreign revenues for the economy. He said:

The Sudan has indeed a rich cultural treasure in all aspects of creativity and the arts, thanks to the country’s cultural diversity as a crucible of both African and Arab cultures. By the result, the arts of Sudan are received with admiration wherever they were put to display outside the country.

And within the country’s drive to exploit its vast economic potentials and under the conditions when investments are geared towards the satisfaction of a world that leans towards welfare, the arts and cultural tourism have become products likely to add a lot to the national economy. Here the artistic and human assets can be turned into an industry that can boost the economy and become part of the national income, instead of becoming a burden on the national budget.

We have a deeply, rich heritage in all aspects of the arts and creation: in music, singing, the fine arts, writing, drama, cinema, theatre, folklore dancing and other arts that can, with a little attention, compete on the world stage and find a market that can boost the national coffers. This can be attained by careful training of artists and other people of creativity.

The state, represented in the ministries of culture and tourism, can help launch theatres and cultural events. It can support, train and qualify the artists and encourage the organization of shows outside the country for more foreign revenues.

Painted by Kamala Ishag, winner of the Dutch Prince Claus Prize, 2019

The state should also pay attention to the intellectual property rights of creative works whether these are songs, dances or drawings. Musical works should be produced along the state of the art technology in terms of high quality CDs. Search should be made for local and foreign publicity for Sudan’s works of art.

In this we have successful experiments with foreign publicity companies such as the World Circuit Arts that operates in the areas of information and artistic production. We also have an experiment with the Arab World Institute that recorded a lot of Sudanese music and distributed it on a wide scale, achieving a lot of success. In 1994 the Institute cashed a lot of profit when it participated in the Sudan Week in Paris. The week had turned heads when it managed to project the cultural life in Sudan through the presentation of songs in the praise of The Prophet Mohammad, recitations from the Holy Koran, folkdances, collective songs and other practices drawn from the folk heritage of the country. The Institute had also produced a disc of the Sudanese rebec instrument that looks very close to the tanbur instrument played in Northern Sudan, the kunt of the Nuba Mountains, the rababa played by the Engasanas of the Blue Nile District and um baribari instrument played in Southern Sudan. The disc had achieved record sales and profits for the Institute.


That is why we should open up towards the World via strong information and established commercials’ companies for our artistic capabilities to fetch a financial boost for the economy, as did a lot of countries that managed through the propagation of tourism and investment to support their economies.

We have a lot of fantastic artistic heritage and folk practices like the kerween musical instrument in Darfur. This instrument is never played except for the sultans (tribal chieftains). In the Engasana district we have the waza musical instrument that can produce 16 tones played to the company of songs.


We also have a lot of spiritual songs performed during the cultivation and harvesting of crops.

Sudan is also characterized with another type of folk art: folk dances.

The Sudan Folk Art Troupe presents thousands of breathtaking dances, which are accompanied with lovely songs. Domestic and external tours to be made by this Troupe can fetch quite a lot of finance. The troupe has already taken part in many shows outside the country among some other foreign folkdance troupes, winning wide acclaim and popularity.

The Sudanese kambala dance has now become an international dance with its troupe’s distinct dresses and its dancers agile movements, appreciated wherever it is performed around the world.

We also have the kalsh dance, the sailors’ songs and the sward dance of Eastern Sudan. We have the traditional butan (whip beatings) of the Ja’aliyyeen and Manaser tribes.

Sudan is rich in drums of all sizes and sounds which are used in galas and as means of communication among the tribes living in outlying areas.

Sword dance 

The Sudan is also distinguished with the derimli rhythms (songs in the forms of dialogue among men and women) and songs that encourage boys during circumcision ceremonies. Many ritual songs are performed such as mourning songs.

Knights on horse backs perform the komellah songs. This type of songs never exists in any country other than in Sudan.

This country with its deep heritage and established civilization needs the launch of official and popular institutions to unveil this artistic wealth and present it to the World to promote touristic and artistic investment.

As regards painting there is need to care for the traditional industries of carvings from ebony, painting on hides, small wooden and clay statues of animals and birds and traditional kitchen pottery.

Africa had gained quite a lot from these industries. But ours are far better.  Such industries are still confined in some little expos on the outskirts of local markets, while they are gaining mounting interest worldwide.

Sudan has a good record in fine arts that can also help boost the economy. Sudan has launched the first college of fine arts in the region that graduated outstanding fine artists who gained wide international fame. With the launch of expos and galleries and the participation of these artists in international events Sudan can gain quite a lot.




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Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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