Emiratis demonstrate love for rich falconry tradition

Emiratis demonstrate love for rich falconry tradition
Emiratis demonstrate love for rich falconry tradition

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Nevin Al Sukari - Abu Dhabi - Careful planning and a great deal of patience are essential in the training of a falcon.

Jamil Khan, Senior Reporter

Individual Emirati falconers have demonstrated their skills in breeding champion falcons in the General Public category of the ongoing Fazza Championship for Falconry-Telwah. The competitions have witnessed the mixed participation across the GCC falconers and teams from the Sheikhs categories.

Hundreds of birds have competed in the General Public category reserved for individual falcon breeders and owners at the annual heritage sport organised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) that will run till Jan.16 at Al Ruwwayyah desert area.

As one of the oldest traditional sports in the Arab region dating back to almost 2,000 years, falconry evolved from the Bedouin method of using falcons in hunting hares and houbara. Falcons, considered as the fastest animal on earth clocking 300 km/h in a dive, were also used together with Salukis (hunting dogs) to chase and hunt down gazelles.

Falconry, however, is not an easy sport and requires perseverance, careful planning and a great deal of patience, essential to train the bird to showcase its skills. This is why the traditional sport of falconry is passed down from generations to generations, underlining the importance of preserving the deep appreciation for the sport.

Al Marri brothers have competed in the General Public category of the Fazza Championship for Falconry-Telwah. They understand that falconry has evolved into a highly skilled sport, with big rewards for those adept at training the birds, and a high value placed on the most beautiful and skillful birds.

Rashid Al Marri, 18, said: “My older brother first started training falcons for the competition three years ago. We have our own farm and my older brother passed on his love for falcons to us. We also have friends who helped us train our birds.

“Compared to more experienced falconers, we are still new in the sport but we patiently train our birds regularly for hours every day,” said Rashid, adding: “We may not be able to enjoy a podium finish yet in the race but we are confident that in due time we will be able to develop winning falcons because we are diligent in training them.” His younger brother, 11-year-old Ateej, is also committed to training falcons. In fact, he will be participating in the upcoming Juniors Category. For Ateej, falconry is not just a hobby but also an opportunity to sustain and further boost the UAE’s dynamic culture.

During training, the Al Marri brothers teach the falcon to swoop down and attack a feathered training lure (Telwah in Arabic) that is tied to a string. As the falcon swoops to catch its prey, the trainer tags it away until the hunting bird learns to catch its prey. Needless to say, the training process requires a lot of patience on the part of the falconer who must also be fully aware of his bird’s capacity and needs.

“But it is during this training that we develop the special bond and understanding between the falcon and the falconer that help us learn and develop the important values associated with the sport of hunting,” the Al Marri brothers said in unison.

However, the Fazza Championship for Falconry-Telwah is the richest and largest falconry championship in the region. It has seen participation not just from the UAE and the GCC but also from all corners of the world, including the UK, Canada, Scotland and several European and Asian countries.

Expanding the championship has not only provided an opportunity to improve the level of competition but also contributed in boosting the cultural experience while sustaining and enhancing the traditional sport,  

Dumaithan Bin Swaidan, Head of the Fazza Championships-Tilwah Committee, said: “The level of competition grows bigger and becomes stronger every year. This year, we have also seen more quality than quantity of birds participating. Each falconer is aiming at a podium finish as only the top three finishers in each class are qualified to compete in the Elite category.”

The first round of the UAE Falconers League has been re-scheduled due to the inclement weather over the weekend. The Juniors Category will also be held at a later date.

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