Falconry in the UAE

on December 18, 2013

The art of falconry can trace it's routes to some 4 thousand years to the asian and arabian cultures where falconry was once practiced as a source of gathering food long before the advent of gunpowder and guns. Brought back to Europe in the middle ages with the numerous Christian crusades, falconry soon became the sport of the kings and queens and the very wealthy. At the turn of the 20th century it made its way to the Americas and now is practiced as a largely recreational pastime throughout the world but it's routes have not been forgotten and even today the sport of falconry is woven into the very tapestry of arabian life.  

 

It is ironic that in a culture whose routes have been based on falconry now finds itself in a situation whereby hunting is mostly banned and overhunting has caused the decline to many of it's prey species. Fortunately they are afforded protection is most areas and if nothing else falconers are also conservationists and today great efforts are being made to save their prey species. In the gulf this is primarily the desert hare and houbara bustard. Other species are hunted such as the stone curlew or Keruwaan as it is known locally. 

Nowadays the hunting with falcons in the gulf countries is largely practiced by wealth sheikhs and arabs who travel to distant countries like Morocco, Pakistan and eastern former Russian sovereign countries.  With many countries now warring and unsafe to travel in, this has created competition amongst the sheikhs to buy up large tracts of land in those countries where the houbara migrate to in order to protect their hunting. This being said, falconry is still practiced in the GCC countries but with increasing difficulty and irregularity.

This has paved the way for falcon race competitions by the government of some arab countries lead by the UAE. While not hunting, it does provide a reason to once again own a falcon but instead of hunting they are used to competitively race against each other. The reward is a huge prize pool of prizes including cars and cash.  

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