Saudi Arabia’s most ancient pursuits in spotlight

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The falconry festival features local and international falconers. (SPA)
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The falconry festival features local and international falconers. (SPA)
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The falconry festival features local and international falconers. (SPA)
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The falconry festival features local and international falconers. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia is one of the 11 top countries listed by UNESCO as home to various species of falcon. (SPA)
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The falconry festival features local and international falconers. (SPA)
Updated 27 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia’s most ancient pursuits in spotlight

  • Art of falconry brings enthusiasts to share experience
  • In the course of six days, Saudi falconers will go head-to-head in their stages and 240 winners will be identified

JEDDAH: The Saudi Falcons Club opened the first King Abdul Aziz Festival of Falconry in the town of Malham, north of Riyadh, on Friday.
Covering about 650,000 square meters, the festival aims to bring together falcon fans to share experience and knowledge. Besides falcon races in the main festival arena and a falcon beauty contest, there will be exhibitions, theater entertainment and campaigns to raise awareness of the pastime and its importance to Saudi heritage.
The festival’s photographic competition, open to both amateurs and professionals, is offering big prize money. The winner will take home SR50,000, with SR30,000 and SR20,000 being awarded for second and third places respectively.
Another attraction at the festival is the cultural village, inspired by the city of Riyadh in the 1950s.
Saudi Arabia is one of the 11 top countries listed by UNESCO as home to various species of falcon and lying on the migratory route for other species.
The festival builds on the success of last month’s Saudi Falcon and Hunting Show, which attracted much attention both in the Gulf and internationally. That was also organized by the Saudi Falcons Club, which was established by royal order of King Salman and under the direct supervision of the crown prince.
400-meter races
Falconers competed in its Al-Melwah “Da’ao” 400-meter races for a chance to win prizes worth SR17 million.
Hamoud Zuman won the first race in a time of 20.720 seconds, Barghash Al-Mansouri won the second race with a time of 22.174 seconds, while Ramzan Al-Dosari came first in the third race with a time of 21.252 seconds.
The falconry festival features local and international falconers. And with 1,700 falcons registered to compete, it is the largest falconry competition in the world.
In the course of six days, Saudi falconers will go head-to-head in their stages and 240 winners will be identified. In addition, the international stage will have 120 winners over 12 races.
The “Mazayen” beauty competition, which is open to Saudi and international falconers, will be launched on Feb.1-2 in two categories.


Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

Updated 16 June 2019
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Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

  • “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,”SCTH source tells Arab News
  • The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow the sale or public consumption of alcohol, a senior government source has told Arab News.

The official with access to relevant decision-makers categorically denied “unsubstantiated” media reports in some international and regional news outlets.

“If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the country moves forward with its reform plans, we expect much speculation and attempts by critics to hold us back. And while people are allowed to speculate and criticize, their speculation should not be treated as the truth.”

A second source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also denied such reports. “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,” he told Arab News. “I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects.”

The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants. Any plans for the sale or consumption of alcohol would have to go through the commission for implementation. 

Saudi Arabia has witnessed substantial social reforms over the past three years, such as the curbing of the previously unchecked power of the religious police, reopening cinemas and allowing women to drive.

There has also been a major shift on previously prohibited public entertainment and gender mixing. International artists including Mariah Carey, Yanni, Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias and Black Eyed Peas have all performed.

Tourism projects have included pop-up versions of international restaurants such as Signor Sassi, Nusr-Et and Nobu. None has served alcohol.

“Officials have repeatedly said all changes were and will always be in line with Islamic teachings and traditions,” the senior source told Arab News.