Abu Dhabi: To celebrate the close-knit community of falconers in the UAE and 79 other countries, the third International Festival of Falconry will kick off on December 11 in the capital.

Under the patronage of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, around 800 falconers from 80 countries will participate in the three-day event alongside 50 speakers at the International Falconry Conference, and 51 exhibitors and performers at the Festival arena. An additional 19 falcon trainers, 45 painters and 47 photographers will also make an appearance at the Falconers Camp in the Western Region and the Al Forsan International Sports Resort consecutively.

“During the celebration of this prominent aspect of UAE culture, we will also raise awareness about the correct ways of using falcons to hunt while preserving the environment and the Houbara Bustard that is usually used to train the falcons,” said Abdullah Butti Al Qubaisi, Director of Projects Management at the Cultural Programmes and Heritage Festivals Committee.

A number of activities will also be held to tackle the different attitudes that individuals of different generations have towards falcon hunting and environmental conservation.

“It is my belief that older generations are more respecting of the falcon as a living creature and a valuable asset and are more likely to be wary and protective of the environment surrounding them. Meanwhile, the younger generation sees falcons merely as tools for hunting, and do not humanise them in the same way that the more experienced generations do. Therefore, lectures that tackle these differences will be launched during the event,” he added.

Dr Nick Fox, head of the Festival‘s Scientific Committee, said that falconry-practising countries are thought of as a brotherhood due to the similarities they possess despite having different backgrounds, religions and politics.

The Unesco will share its plans to preserve and sustain falconry as a human heritage.Experts at the launch of the festival said that all are welcome to apply at the Emirates Falconers’ Club.

“The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) is also looking to incorporate lessons about hunting using falcons in their school curricula to encourage youngsters to seek this sport as a hobby when they are older,” Al Qubaisi said.