Adihex highlight the traditions and biodiversity of UAE
The eye-catching pavilion stands out from the crowd as it is designed to look like a pirate ship.
Abu Dhabi - September is the month when falconry training begins and when the birds start their journey back to Arabia, to spend the gentler winter months.
Published: Thu 14 Sep 2017, 10:16 PM
Last updated: Fri 15 Sep 2017, 12:20 AM
It is the special link to falcons that makes September the chosen month for the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex) for the past 15 years.
September is the month when falconry training begins and when the birds start their journey back to Arabia, to spend the gentler winter months. Traditionally, in the old days, falconers would capture the wild falcons and begin training them for the coming hunting season. Today, captive bred falcons have replaced the wild ones, but their training timing remains the same.
And the oldest falcon breeding farm in the world is back at Adihex this year - the Falcon Centre. The eye-catching pavilion stands out from the crowd as it is designed to look like a pirate ship with some 40 hooded falcons perched on the ship's piers like resting seagulls. "They are hooded because falcons are more calm, relaxed when they do not see; they don't get distracted by all that is happening around them," said Hamed Salem Al Ketbi, the manager of Falcon Centre.
He and his farm bred falcons have been coming to Adihex ever since the show began in 2003. Presently, the Falcon Centre has over 2,000 falcons in its farms of all kind of breeds.
Chasing Rabbits, Houbara and GazellesThe Al Marzoum Protected Area for Hunting in Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi emirate closed its gates for the summer. On a high note, 909 people mostly from the UAE and neighbouring countries stayed at the hunting desert facility, taking part in 628 hunting trips organised between mid-November 2016 until mid-February 2017.
And this year, the Al Marzoum Protected Area for Hunting, a protected hunting ground that only allow traditional, sustainable hunting with the aim of preserving and promoting one of the oldest Emirati - and Arab - desert heritage, falconry has returned for the second consecutive year at Adihex.
Hence, no firearms are allowed inside the hunting area, and no private vehicles either. Hunters may only chase after Houbara bustards and other birds, rabbits and gazelles using falcons and saluki dogs. At all times they are accompanied by professional falconers, who act as both guides and drivers for the hunting trips, using classic, old four-wheel vehicles such as the FJ 40.
"We are here at Adihex to promote the next hunting season at Marzoum, which will start on November 1. Just as in the previous season, visitors may hunt with saluki dogs for gazelles or with falcons for Houbara and other small prey," said Mubarak Jaber Al Mansouri, a spokesperson for Al Marzoum Protected Area for Hunting.
During the last season, some 2070 Houbara bustards, 72 rabbits and 57 antelopes were released in the protected area, which sprawls over a vast area of 923 square kilometres.
Wildlife treasuresAlso, at Adihex is a few furry friends, adorable looking cats and dogs, which are the first to attract visitors at the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi's (EAD) stand. The pets arrived here from the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, part of EAD, which also runs an animal rescue centre. The dozen cats and dogs, once abandoned on the streets of Abu Dhabi and often subject to cruel human behaviour, are all in top health shape and ready to be adopted and leave Adihex to their forever home. The hospital also runs a health check-up service at the exhibition for all falcons bought here.
Dr Margit Muller, director of Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital explained: "Our presence at Adihex is something we look forward to year after year as it allows us to connect with falconers and animal lovers and to promote our services. The hospital is not only the world's premiere medical facility for falcons, but also provides a falcon passport service to facilitate travel internationally and aids rehabilitation of injured wild or confiscated falcons. It also provides medical care for other domestic pets and a cat and dog rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing".
Visitors attending Adihex 2017 also get the chance to learn more about Jebel Hafeet, the only Abu Dhabi mountain and one of the most important areas in the emirate for terrestrial biodiversity. Jebel Hafeet supports a range of rare species, including the Arabian Tahr, which are unable to thrive in the surrounding desert.
Dial a Falcon BurqaEmirati Ahmed Abdullah Majan also brought one of the few inventions to Adihex; the Dial a Falcon Burqa. You dial an Etisalat number of your choice and the burqa - the mask - covering the falcon's head pops up, allowing the falcon to start hunting. In the same time, the pigeon trap is released, so the pigeon flies out, thus attracting the falcon.
"This allows for remote falcon training. The falcon mask remover may be activated from any distance. All it requires is to set up a mobile number; when the user dials the number, the signal is sent to a device connected to the mask, which is then automatically removed from the falcon," explained Majan.