Al Ain City in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi will host in December the Second International Festival of Falconry. The Festival is organized by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) in cooperation with the Emirates Falconers' Club and the Council of British Falconers.
This international event comes after 35 years when the First International Falconry Conference (IFC), which was inaugurated by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God bless his soul, in December 1976 in order to preserve falconry as an important element of the UAE national heritage
The Falconry Festival, which is held under the patronage of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, is also a celebration of the registration of falconry as an inscription on the UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity after years of unabated international efforts led by the UAE through ADACH and the concerned Emirati institutions.
The 175 falconers from over 60 countries will be taking part in the Festival which will be held from 11th to 17th along 93 speakers in the forum and the IFC, 82 representatives of UNESCO, 51 exhibitors, 19 falcon trainers, 45 painters and sculptors, 47 photographers and 30 international media delegations.
The International Wildlife Consultants (IWC), The International Association for Falconry (IAF) and the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) will also take part in the Festival.
Mohammed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Advisor for Culture and Heritage in the Court of HH the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Director General of ADACH stressed that the organising of this event aims to celebrate falconry as a global human heritage, highlighted the role played by the UAE to register falconry as a human heritage on the Representative List of UNESCO and the importance of this achievement.
"The Festival also seeks to celebrate the registration of Al Ain as part of the international tangible heritage at UNESCO, promote the UAE as a modern state proud of its culture and heritage, promote Abu Dhabi as a unique destination for cultural tourism, provide a unique platform for dialogue among cultures and bringing together people, organizations and individuals interested in falconry in order to support, preserve and develop this heritage and highlight the efforts of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE in the preservation of the environment and promoting its sustainability," Mazrouei added.
Abdallah Al Qubaisi, Director of the Festival and Director of the Communication Department at ADACH, said that the festival provides a unique opportunity to falconers and those interested in falconry to directly exchange expertise through the falconers camp, which will take place in December 11-13 in the Rimah region in Al Ain City.
"The camp offers falconers a practical expertise to experience life in the desert. They will train birds which are allocated to them by the Festival," Qubaisi added.
Training will include learning to ride horses and camels which will be exhibited later at the siteof Jahili Fort after the end of the camp.
The camp is also an opportunity to learn and exchange expertise between the Emirati and international falconers. It is an opportunity to compete in camel and saluki (greyhound) races and hunting using falcons bred in captivity, the Gyr Saker and the Gyr Shaheen.
From the 15th to 17th of December, 93 international experts and specialists in falconry will be presenting research papers about all aspects related to falconry and future plans set out by UNESCO to preserve falconry and sustain it as a human heritage through a forum and an international conference organized by ADACH at Al Ain Rotana Hotel. The forum includes three workshops organized in parallel and which will touch on many of the topics of interest to falconers everywhere, through 76 work papers.
The events will be held in December 15-17 in Jahili Fort and will include tents dedicated to the participating countries, which reflect their interest in falconry and display traditional crafts associated with them. There will be a UAE pavilion which includes the government agencies’ initiatives related to falconry and sustainable hunting, a circuit for the program the countries’ exhibits, a program of events and educational and family activities, an exhibition of the winners in of painting and photography competitions, wings to exhibit the international initiatives to preserve falcons and a market for falconry equipment and traditional crafts.
The results of arts and handicrafts competition related to falconry as well as photography contest will be announced on December 15 by UNESCO representatives. The competitions include open or restricted topics which deal with human relationship between the falconers and their birds, flying, types of prey, breeding different strains, landscaping, national identity of the participating countries, sculptures, jewelry, calligraphy and fashion related to falconry.
The International Wildlife Consultants stressed the importance of the recent registration of falconry on the World Heritage List of UNESCO thanks to the UAE’s huge efforts. The IWC pointed out its activities in the field of culture and heritage, the management of the heritage of falconry, including the provision of grants to falconry researchers and the management of the international electronic archive for the heritage of falconry.
Frank Bond, President of the International Association for Falconry and Conservation (IAF), said that it is a great pride that falconry has been included in the UNESCO list for intangible heritage.
“We are delighted to support these UAE-led efforts, which are important to us in the Association,” said Bond
"Falconry represents a heritage that dates back to more than 4,000 years. We see that its recognition as an intangible heritage for humanity will contribute to recognizing it as an important element in the heritage of countries which have not considered it as such,” he noted.
Patrick Morel, an official at the International Association for Falconry, stressed that the late Sheikh Zayed, may God bless his soul, earned a lot of appreciation in the whole world as one of the pioneering falconers and had had a significant impact on the world of falconry while “we were still at the beginning of the road in the West.”
The IAF commended in a statement the efforts of ADACH in successfully registering falconry as a documented intangible heritage at UNESCO.
Meanwhile, Dieter Schramm, President of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation which includes 84 member states, said that the Global Community of Sustainable Hunters which is affiliated to CIC, has highly appreciated the UAE’s role to achieve this stunning success as a model for preserving the common human heritage among countries across the world.
“Falconry got the best and largest global recognition as a human cultural heritage through the UAE’s globally-known interest in Arab heritage, values, customs and identity,” Schramm said.