Abu Dhabi: Hunting equipment, majestic salukis and awe-inspiring falcons await visitors to the 8th annual Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex), a four-day event that is held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the Emirates Falconers' Club.
Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi, Event Director of Adihex and Communications Director of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), spoke to Gulf News about the exhibition, its accomplishments and what can be expected from this year's event.
Gulf News: How has Adihex evolved since its inception in 2003?
Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi: At the exhibition's first year we had only 40 exhibitors in a hall that was 400 square metres. It was inaugurated by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who was in fact the inspiration behind the exhibition.
This year, we have 550 exhibitors from 26 countries spread over several halls with a total area of 29,000 sqm gross. In addition, this year, there will be four country pavilions from France, Germany, Tanzania and South Africa.
We are very happy and proud that Adihex stands out as a platform to provide young Emiratis with an opportunity so that they become interested in the different aspects of their heritage. It is an event where every generation in a family, from grandparents to grandchildren, can come and enjoy what is being showcased.
What can visitors look forward to this year?
This year will see the return of the popular activities and competitions that are an integral part of the exhibition, such as the traditional poetry competitions, the camel auction as well as the highlight of the exhibition, the Saluki Beauty Competition.
Moreover, the stands of Adach and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi will have several outreach programmes, some of which are aimed at students, and a volunteer programme titled Fazzaa. We will be providing training for over 300 volunteers who will also be provided with opportunities to go to the conferences and workshops throughout the exhibition.
Are there any additions to the 2010 programme?
This year, we will be hosting the first World Arabian Horse Racing Conference, where experts discuss various issues about horse racing, such as the breeding of Arabian horses and how to market them.
Another change is that this year, the equestrian section of the exhibition has been given an entire hall to accommodate all the participants. We will also be highlighting marine hunting, which was introduced last year, and we plan to invest more in this section in future exhibitions.
How has the Organising Committee attracted exhibitors and visitors to this year's Adihex?
For exhibitors, we tried to find incentives such as Early Bird special offers, services and facilities. Also, every year, there is increased interest in terms of not only the quantity but the variety of the visitors to the event. Shaikhs, businessmen and members of the public all attend the exhibition and in many instances have purchased items directly from exhibitors.
For visitors, we have a diverse line-up of events and activities. Last year, we saw expatriates participate in various events, such as the traditional coffee brewing competition and handicraft courses. Some even participated in our cultural dances, which shows that this exhibition is one of a few events that both Emiratis and expatriates can enjoy together.
In addition, there are several special deals and offers in place for exhibitors and visitors travelling from abroad. We have already received bookings from as far away as Australia.
What do you hope to achieve at this year's Adihex?
There are several goals that we are aiming for, including breaking last year's record of 100,000 visitors. Among the exhibition's achievements to date include highlighting the UAE's culture and values as well as promoting hunting with falcons. We must remember that it is this initiative that has helped save wild falcons from extinction.
Have you faced any challenges hosting this exhibition? What are the measures you have taken to make sure that this year's is as smooth as possible?
Of course, with an exhibition as large as this one, we are sometimes faced with various challenges but we have managed to find solutions for every possible situation.
For animals and weaponry imported by international exhibitors, we try to make sure that they arrive as smoothly as possible and are secured on-site.
Animals being exhibited, such as the camels and some of the falcons, are housed on-site, while salukis are brought in every day from their owners' houses.
What: Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition
When: September 22 - 25
Where: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre
Timings: 11am - 10pm