ISLAMABAD: Hunting with falcons is an ancient Arab cultural heritage, one which the Saudi Falcon Club hopes to promote by organizing the first edition of the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival next week.
The event, which is set to be held in Riyadh from January 25 to February 3, is the biggest of its kind where thousands of enthusiasts will be in attendance, not only from Saudi Arabia and the region but from the rest of the world, too.
“There are more than 20,000 falconers in the Kingdom. To support the pioneering role of the Arab falconers and the Kingdom’s interest in this heritage, a royal decree was stipulated to establish the Falcon Club in the Kingdom in 2017 to create an association of falconers,” a statement posted on the Saudi Falcons Club’s website reads.
Saudi Arabia is one among several countries listed by UNESCO in the falcon-breeding category, especially since it is home to various types of local falcons and serves as a pathway for others that migrate across the country.
According to the club, falcons are divided into dozens of groups, which vary in size, weight, feather colors, speed, and their ability to fly. There is a miscellany of falcons living in various geographical and climatic regions, from extreme deserts to colder regions.
“Researchers have scientifically divided falcons’ origins into four main types: Falco Cherrug/Saker Falcon (Hurr), Gyrfalcon Falco Rusticolus (Jeer), Falco Peregrinus (Shaheen) and Lanner Falcon/Falco Biarmicus (Wakri),” the website says.
The club had hosted the first Saudi Falcons and Hunting Exhibition in Riyadh last year, where more than 250 exhibitors had participated from around the Kingdom, the GCC and the world.
Next week’s festival in Riyadh will feature other heritage-related activities focusing on families, young children and Saudi nationals.