Abu Dhabi: ‘Women in Falconry’ will be one of the main topics for discussion at the conference ‘The Future of Falconry’, to be hosted at the next edition of Adihex, in cooperation with Unesco and organised by Emirates Falconers’ Club and the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF). A total of 110 associations from 90 countries, including more than 75,000 falconers worldwide, currently come under the umbrella of this organisation.
Adihex will be held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Emirates Falconers’ Club, from September 27 to October 3, 2021, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec).
The event will be organised by the Emirates Falconers’ Club with the official sponsorship of Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi, International Fund for Houbara Conservation and Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Skills and techniques of falconry
The year-round falconry events organised by the UAE over the past two decades have encouraged girls to learn the skills and techniques of falconry, hunting and safari, which allowed them to take part in falconry competitions, just as it has happened in equestrian and other traditional sports.
The Mohamed bin Zayed School of Falconry and Desert Physiognomy in Al Ain celebrated, in 2018, the graduation of the first group of female falconers, who mastered the principles of Arabian Falconry and its principles, rules and ancient arts. The school witnessed a vast influx of students eager to learn the art of Arabian Falconry and the principles of desert life. To date, it has been able to attract 2,021 students, including 1,163 males and 858 females.
The International Festival of Falconry (IFF) — organised by Emirates Falconers’ Club in 2011, 2014 and 2017 in Abu Dhabi — as well as all the editions of Adihex, saw the participation of many female falconers from all over the world, along with many female researchers from Europe, United States and Japan.
Abu Dhabi’s heritage activities and events celebrated the presence of experienced and promising European and Japanese female falconers. As for Emirati women, many of them participated in the IFF competitions in the Remah desert.
Majid Ali Al Mansouri, chairman of the Higher Organising Committee of Adihex, president of IAF and secretary-general of the Emirates Falconers’ Club, stressed that Emirati women are very keen on holding on to their national identities, customs and traditions of their society, with falconry as one of its most important pillars, as they grow and engage in various fields.
Focus on female falconers
The UAE today is a country of many female falconers who train, teach and raise the birds, including some who specialise in treating falcons. Just as there has been a shift in the past few years with Emirati women entering equestrian, it is quite likely that they will tackle falconry next, regardless of it being quite an arduous sport.
Today, eight-year-old Emirati Osha Khalifa Al Mansoori thrives brilliantly at various festivals and exhibitions. She first stepped into falconry at the age of four when she participated in the President Cup Falcon Competition, as well as in Adihex and the 4th International Festival of Falconry in 2017, organised by Emirates Falconers’ Club. She is one of the youngest, if not the youngest, female falconers in the world.
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Spread of falconry in Middle East
New archeological records, excavations and ancient texts prove that falconry spread in the Middle East, especially in the Arabian Gulf, 10,000 years ago, before it moved to other nations, such in East Asia, Europe and North America.
In a study published in April 2021 in the French edition of National Geographic magazine, archeologists from the University of California concluded that 30 to 50 per cent of hunters in ancient times were females.