Young Saudi falconer woos visitors at Riyadh exhibition

Young Saudi falconer woos visitors at Riyadh exhibition
Ahmed Al-Chahwan, 12, a sixth grade student from the Qassim region, was born and raised among falcons. (SPA)
Updated 06 December 2018

Young Saudi falconer woos visitors at Riyadh exhibition

Young Saudi falconer woos visitors at Riyadh exhibition

RIYADH: Among the many falconers attending the very first falcons and hunting exhibition currently being held in Riyadh, one young man managed to turn quite a few heads.
In fact, visitors gathered around Ahmed Al-Chahwan, 12, as the young boy held two falcons at a time on his small arms.
A sixth grade student from the Qassim region, Ahmed was born and raised among these birds of prey thanks to his father’s avid hobby.
He himself owns two that he has used for hunting several times and has traveled 400km with his father to take part in this exhibition, which concludes on Saturday.
The exhibition, which kicked off on Wednesday, is “reflective of our cultural identity, which in many ways mirrors the Arabian Peninsula over the centuries,” says Ahmed.
He said the exhibition, which aims to introduce a joint platform through which amateurs and professionals can interact, as well as include other falconers from the Gulf, has witnessed a high turnout thanks to its thorough set-up.
The Kingdom is one of 11 countries on the UNESCO list of falcon-breeding countries and is home to many falcon species, as well as a major passageway for other migrating birds of prey. The exhibition features simulations of hunting trips and wildlife in an attempt to make the experience as close to reality as possible. The various sections of the exhibition are also a simulation of oases featuring hills, highlands, sand dunes and some lakes.
Falcons are considered a vital part of life among Bedouins, who see them as a symbol of bravery and nobility.
Indeed, falconry has allowed Ahmed to persevere well beyond his age. While children his age play video games, he spends his time training the majestic animals, garnering the admiration of fellow falconers who are decades his senior.
His father relies on him to tend to the falcons. He is fully responsible for feeding, handling and housing them, and he often accompanies his father on trips outdoors to train them.
“I decided to take part in the exhibition, which is the first of its kind, the moment I heard about it,” he said.
Ahmed’s father commends his son’s interaction with the falcons and says he is his main partner in all hunting trips. “He still manages to focus on his studies despite this full-time job,” he said.
The pair expressed gratitude for the establishment of the Saudi Falcons Club, which they say was a long-awaited initiative among avid fans.