Falconry UAE: Exploring Abu Dhabi’s Rich Heritage and Exotic Falconry Traditions

Eslam Mobarak
Published 3 weeks ago on 2 June, 2024-186 views
Falconry UAE is a thrilling tour through the heart of Abu Dhabi's rich history.

Falconry UAE and Falcons have been inextricably for thousands of years linked to Emirati culture. Because these birds have been a vital part of Bedouin life for millennia, there is no record of when Arabs began domesticating them in the desert. Traditionally, Bedouin Arabs used them mostly for hunting. Falcons have shown to be quite useful in arid deserts when food is sparse and movement is difficult. Their keen eyesight and quick flight helped the desert inhabitants catch Bustards and Curlews for food, particularly on important occasions when the Bedouins had to entertain distinguished guests. Hunting became less common over time.

However, falcons continue to play an important role in Emirati culture. Today, falcons are primarily used for sporting purposes. They are also praised for their beauty and quickness. Falcons are a sign of pride and glory for Arabs. Emiratis regard desert falconry UAE doc as an art form. They take good care of the falcons and train them to create an everlasting relationship. During their trading voyages, the Arabs introduced falconry to ancient Rome and Persia. In 2016, UNESCO listed falconry as part of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage.

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Falconry UAE History

The history of falconry in the UAE extends back nearly 4,000 years when Bedouins in the UAE and Arabian Peninsula employed falcons to hunt. Today, it is one of the UAE’s most prestigious and recognized sports. Falcons are trained for months before participating in tournaments and contests. Falcons are seen as symbols of courage and dignity. The late H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the first President of the UAE, was a strong supporter of falconry and enjoyed it from an early age. Under his leadership, substantial attempts were made to preserve the sport. These include a falcon release program and the establishment of the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the world’s largest of its kind.

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Falconry UAE Training & Equipment

Falconry UAE Training and Equipment
Falconry UAE Training and Equipment

Falcons must be trained before they can be employed in the sport. The trainer connects a feathered training decoy to a line and pulls it away when the falcon swoops to collect it. After several trials, the bird eventually learns to grab the moving target. Once the practice is completed, pigeons are utilized to finish the training. When the falcon isn’t flying, it usually wears a handcrafted leather hood that conceals its eyes and head. A wooden platform with a large flat top serves as a perch for the falcon. Other alternative equipment includes a leather glove and a GPS beacon for tracking the bird.

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Places to Experience Falconry UAE

You can see falconry performances and demonstrations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. To enjoy falconry in the UAE, choose desert safari packages that incorporate falconry. You may also witness private falcon displays at Dubai’s Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa or Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. The guided tours at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital are another excellent way to learn more about these stunning birds and see them in action including UAE Exotic Falconry services! You can also learn about other traditional activities in the UAE, such as archery and horse racing.

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Ancient Art of UAE Falconry in Dubai

Ancient Art of UAE Falconry Dubai
Ancient Art of UAE Falconry Dubai

Falcons are undeniably one of the most magnificent species in the world. Not only are they the fastest animals on the planet – a peregrine falcon has been recorded diving at 389 km/h (242 mph), but their combination of incredible speed, power, and agility makes them formidable hunters. For millennia, the Arabian peninsula’s Bedouins have utilized falcons to assist them capture animals. Nowadays, their role in Bedouin life is largely ceremonial, but because of a resurgent interest in bird racing, falconry has never been more popular.

Falcons were popular with Arabs for hunting because they were easy to train. Falcons can also be trained to deliver a game without killing or consuming any of it. This was significant to the Arabs because for the meal to be lawful to eat (halaal), it had to be slain by cutting the throat while still alive. Typically, female falcons are utilized for hunting. Al-Hurr, as they are known, are more powerful and influential than their male counterparts. The saker and peregrine are the most sought-after raptors of all falcon species.

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Falconry UAE in Dubai

Falconry UAE in Dubai
Falconry UAE in Dubai

The UAE is the world’s premier falconry center – the falcon is, after all, the country’s national bird – so it’s no surprise that tourists to Dubai may watch the practice or even handle a bird themselves, all under tight supervision. Activities vary per provider and may include viewing falcons dive for prey from a hot air balloon, seeing how falconers train a bird, and learning about the history of falconry and the animals themselves. Furthermore, they all provide an opportunity to witness these breathtakingly gorgeous creatures up close.

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Platinum Heritage Falconry & Nature Safari

The (Platinum Heritage Falconry and Wildlife Nature Safari) is an incredible experience that is well worth the money. The safari lasts over four hours and includes transfers to and from your hotel, a 75-minute falcon display and interactive birds of prey demonstration, a delicious breakfast, a visit to a bird sanctuary, and a wildlife drive through the magnificent Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The luxury desert tour operator also includes shorter falconry sessions in a variety of other packages, including a morning hot air balloon flight, so take your time selecting the perfect one for you.

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Falconry UAE & Heritage Sports Center

Visit the Falcon and Heritage Sports Centre in Nad Al Sheba to watch falconry in action. Visit the Falcon Museum to discover more about the history of falconry in the UAE, as well as the businesses and facilities still used by Dubai’s working falconers. We recommend the center’s free guided tours, which will take you through the many halls and exhibitions while providing essential insights along the way.

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The Royal Shaheen Falcon

Royal Shaheen Falcon
Royal Shaheen Falcon

You’ll be in capable hands with (Royal Shaheen). As a professional falconry safari provider, birds of prey are the primary focus, which is why they employ multiple world-class falconers. The company’s base package includes a four-hour desert excursion, as well as a 90-minute falconry session. Upgrade options include a gourmet breakfast and private tours for a more intimate and exclusive experience.

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Spa and Bab Al Shams Desert Resort

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa, a premium hotel hidden amid Dubai’s shifting dunes, offers an exceptional experience. Best of all, you don’t have to be a resort visitor to book its famed daily falcon display, which takes place just before nightfall. The hour-long session begins with an expert falconer introducing you to the birds in a designated desert area, followed by the option of taking a brief camel ride nearby – always a treat for the kids.

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WildFlight Falconry Experience

WildFlight Falconry
WildFlight Falconry

In addition to falconry experiences, WildFlight is one of the few suppliers that offers falconry training courses. Over eight hours of classes spread over several days, you’ll learn about falconry practice, including introductions to husbandry, specialist equipment, handling, and more – one for serious falconry lovers. If you’re short on time, choose the Interactive Falconry Experience tour instead. You’ll get to observe the birds up close while a falconer explains their characteristics and teaches you how to summon a falcon to your protected hand.

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Training UAE Falcons

Training UAE Falcons
Training UAE Falcons

To train, a falconer must be patient and comprehend the bird’s behavior. The most significant aspect of the training is the birds’ manning, or acclamation, in the presence of men. A Burqa, or leather hood, is used for this purpose. The hood is placed over the bird’s head to conceal its eyes and help it calm down. Hoods are constructed of soft leather to keep the bird comfortable. Other typical training equipment includes a wooden perch for the bird and forearm protection to protect the trainer’s hand.

Young birds, approximately seven months old, are chosen for training. The entire training procedure lasts two to three months. Food deprivation is used to tame the bird and help it bond with the trainer.

The training prepares the Falcon to drop down on the prey, attack it, and then carry it and take off. The birds are trained to hoist by progressively increasing the weight of the decoy as their muscles develop. To accomplish so, a feathered decoy that resembles the prey is deployed. The trainer swings the decoy, teaching the bird to chase and swoop down on it. When the bird is ready, live prey is introduced.

Nowadays, GPS beacons are affixed to the bird’s legs. Other than for training, GPS can help locate and identify a missing bird. Good falcons are valuable possessions that can cost a lot of money, particularly rare peregrine falcons, which can fetch a few million dirhams.

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Falconers Special Handmade Equipment

Falconers utilize unique handmade equipment, such as a leather cowl, to protect the falcon’s head and eyes when it is not flying. A wooden stand used as a perch for the bird consists of a large flat top attached to a stick that may be readily inserted into sand. The falconer wears a leather forearm guard to provide a perch for the bird during hunting and training flights. The GPS beacon affixed to the bird’s leg is now considered necessary equipment. This is significant not just because of the link between falconer and bird, but also because these birds may be highly valuable, with some valued at more than AED 73,500 (US$ 20,000).

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Falconry UAE Traditional Sport

Nowadays, falcons are primarily used for athletic activities sport in the UAE. These events are extremely popular among Arabs. So much so that a normal racing falcon fetches around 800,000 UAE dirhams. There are two kinds of falconry sports. One includes a trainer swinging a prey, allowing the Falcon to fly in circles about him, and then chasing it down. It’s fascinating to see the bird soar at high speeds, quickly changing direction to follow the lure. When the Falcon eventually captures its target, the trainer praises the bird and allows it to eat it. This is often referred to as shotgun falconry.

We all know how famous horse racing is in Dubai. However, another race is as obscure to the world: the falcon race. In a race, falcons strive for the coveted championship. The bird who travels the furthest in the least amount of time wins. To get the bird to fly, the falconer stands at the finish line with a lure. The time taken by each Falcon to cross the finish line is recorded. Drones with lures attached are now employed in racing.

To be competitive, a falcon must undergo extensive training. Falcons, like horses, are admired for their power and speed. There are unique competitions for the falcon race, which is typically held in deserts or semi-deserts. The annual (Fazza Championship) is just one among several. This sport is enjoyed by Arabs of all social and economic backgrounds. If you want to see falconry in Dubai, plan your vacation during the cooler months of October through March.

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Falconry UAE Safaris in Abu Dhabi

Falconry UAE Safaris Abu Dhabi
Falconry UAE Safaris Abu Dhabi

Falconry has been practiced in the Middle East for centuries. It’s a spiritual sport that fosters a strong bond between man and bird, beginning while the bird is still a fledgling. Peter Bergh, one of the Middle East’s most well-known falconers, is a local legend with over 18 years of expertise. He is also the founder of Royal Shaheen, Dubai’s leading falconry safari company, which now conducts falconry performances at the Jumeirah al Wathba Desert Resort and Spa in Abu Dhabi. His safaris can be scheduled through the resort.

‘My love affair with falcons began more than 25 years ago, back in South Africa,’ Bergh explains. ‘A friend of mine was a falconer and would frequently visit our farm to hunt birds with his African Goshawk. I knew that was something I wanted to try. Now, I get gratification from pushing the frontiers of falconry and finding ways to get remarkable speeds out of my birds.

Bergh’s project Flying with Falcons has garnered attention in the Middle East tourism industry. ‘After acquiring a portion of a balloon company, they began to wonder, “Why don’t we fly falcons from the balloons?” They took four Scottish-bred baby falcons and imprinted them [to give them a feeling of species identification], before training them daily in Umbria near hot air balloons. They then returned to Dubai to start the project. They lift out in a hot air balloon, climb to 4,000 feet, and release the falcon, allowing their clients to observe a falcon and a human sharing the same airspace.’

Peter is constantly looking for more efficient ways to condition his falcons. He created a miniature remote-controlled light airplane known as the Berghwing for training purposes. By chasing this day after day, a falcon steadily improves its flying times and distance. ‘The Berghwing brings the planet’s most formidable apex predator right in front of us so that we may experience their astounding performance capabilities firsthand,’ he proudly claims.

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Women UAE Falconry Partners in Flight

Ayesha Al Mansoori’s motivation for mastering the traditional art of falconry was neither sustenance nor sport. It was a way to stay close to her father. “At first, I just wanted to be with him because I loved him,” she recounted from her tent during the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival’s United Arab Emirates program. They would go out into the desert to hunt, observe, and practice. Eventually, Ayesha became the UAE’s first female falconer. “Falconry is in my blood.” It’s my culture, something I grew up with.”

Falconry evolved approximately 4,000 years ago among the Bedouin, a nomadic population in what is now the UAE and the Arabian Peninsula. In the resource-scarce desert, falcons were trained as hunting aids and partners. They are educated, quick, and courageous. Falconry has evolved over the years into a popular sport, a powerful national emblem, a presentation of the UAE’s cultural history, and, in the case of the Al Mansooris, a familial lineage.

Osha, Ayesha’s daughter, is the UAE’s youngest falconer at nine years old. Since she was eight months old and gurgling in her stroller, Osha has lived in their family room with falcons. “When she was a baby, she tried to touch and hold the falcons,” Ayesha said. “And as I fed the falcons, she sat nearby and watched.” Ayesha’s father was also aware of his granddaughter’s curiosity. “My father instructed me that I should teach falconry, everything about falcons, the desert, the culture, everything.”

Osha’s instruction began with a lesson: instead of furious dominance or unilateral control from human handlers, falcons want attention and respect. Ayesha emphasized the need for falconers to develop a strong bond with their birds before they can hunt. When juvenile falcons are brought home, “we must remain with the falcons alone for one to two weeks. “You feed them and allow them to recognize you.” There are amazing moments that represent the strengthened bond: “When they hear your voice, they will recognize you. “They will react or perhaps become aroused.”

In the UAE, Ayesha gladly shares her falconry knowledge and abilities with other women, creating a community in an otherwise male-dominated industry. In 2016, she formed the Falconry Ladies Club. “There should be more female and youth falconers,” she insists in her vision for the future. “Everyone could go out together to hunt with their families.” Just like Ayesha discovered a way to stay connected to her father, she forms similar relationships with her daughter and a growing network of female practitioners that now spans the globe.

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Why is falconry popular in the UAE?

Falcons are a cultural emblem of the UAE due to their skill and individual personalities. Falcons hunted bustards, curlews, and other animals for food, making them an important part of Bedouin (Nomadic Arab) life.

What is the falconry course in the UAE?

The falconry course experience begins with assisting in training the larger spotted eagle, desert eagle owl, and Harris’s hawk. All of these birds will be flown to the fist, and you will be urged to participate, making this an extremely unique occasion.

Is it legal to own a falcon in the UAE?

The UAE allows falconry among adult Emiratis under Law No. 22 of 2005. Ahmed Al Hashemi, executive director for terrestrial and marine biodiversity at EAD, explained the numerous factors that influence Emirati cultural activity in Abu Dhabi.

How much does a falcon cost in the UAE?

Falcons are considered a status symbol in Dubai, with some selling for up to a million dirhams each. Because of this, falcons are frequently linked with luxury and class. To showcase the exquisite side of falconry, several of our luxury desert safaris feature an exclusive falconry experience.

Falconry UAE is a captivating journey into the heart of Abu Dhabi’s rich heritage. As an important part of Arab heritage, falconry is deeply ingrained in the culture of the United Arab Emirates. The falcon, the UAE’s national bird and symbol, plays a central role in this ancient sport. Understanding what falconry is and why it is important in the UAE reveals a world of tradition and skill. From falconry demonstrations to the Abu Dhabi Falconers Club, this sport remains integral to UAE National Day celebrations and beyond, showcasing the enduring legacy of falconry in the region.

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