Falconry festival puts old Saudi tradition under spotlight

Falconry festival puts old Saudi tradition under spotlight
Falcons have played an important role in the lives of Arabs. (Photo/SPA)
Updated 23 January 2019

Falconry festival puts old Saudi tradition under spotlight

Falconry festival puts old Saudi tradition under spotlight

RIYADH: Organizers of a major Saudi Arabian falconry festival are hoping the event will help put one of the Kingdom’s most ancient pursuits under the spotlight. 
Thousands of enthusiasts from throughout the Middle East and around the world are expected to flock to the King Abdul Aziz Falconry Festival, which starts on Jan. 25 in the town of Malham, north of Riyadh.
The gathering, one of the biggest of its kind in the Kingdom, is being organized by the Saudi Falcons Club as a celebration of the country’s cultural past. 
A cash pot of prizes valued at more than SR17 million ($4.6 million) will be up for grabs during the festival, which runs until Feb. 3.
The Saudi Falcons Club is billing the event as providing a “cultural and economic hub” for falconry fans from around the globe. Competitions, exhibitions, theater entertainment and residential camps will be among the attractions aimed at raising awareness of the pastime and its importance to Saudi heritage.
Falcon races will be held in the main festival arena throughout the gathering, and there will also be a falcon beauty contest.
A heritage museum will use interactive displays to explain the history of falconry in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, including traditional training and hunting techniques. A contemporary art exhibition on falconry hunting and breeding down the ages, will also be housed in the museum.
A cultural village, inspired by the city of Riyadh in the 1950s, will be another festival attraction, and visitors will also be able to enjoy cultural entertainment at the site’s 2,800-seat theater.
Children will be able to take part in falconry-related activities at a special education center, where they will get hands-on experience of the birds of prey.
Falconers can register to take part in festival contests in Jeddah, Tabuk, Hafar Al-Batin and Arar, in addition to the main registration site in Riyadh.
A photographic competition with prizes totaling SR100,000 is also being run as part of the festival.