Friday, 12 December 2014

The Festival of Falconry

Today the kids and I visited the Festival of Falconry, held not far from where we live. It's the biggest international festival of falconry in the world, more than 800 falconers from over 80 countries take part this weekend, at this three-day festival. This is the third time it's held here in Abu Dhabi.

The area where it's held is huge and spacious. There was tents and exhibitors everywhere, falconers were there from all over the globe. A lot of educational exhibits, such as the Conservation of Raptors Exhibit, the Conservation of Prey Exhibit, Hawking Dogs Exhibit and the Rehabilitation Exhibit.

We could also enjoy several photographic and painting exhibitions:

 There was a souq with handicraft both on display and for sale:

Many of the visiting countries put on shows during the day to display the skills of their birds of prey, and the many different styles, cultures and traditions from around the world. We just caught the last bit of the Belgium showcase of medieval European falconry:

We found the Swedish tent, but unfortunately the Swedes themselves were nowhere to be seen, so we spoke to the Dane instead.

In the North American part, we saw a teepee, from Canada:

Inside the Mongolian yurt (= a round, cake-shaped tent) in the Steppe Village. These guys are famous for flying Golden Eagles from their horses:

In the family corner there was a lot of workshops for the children to participate in, painting, origami, stamping and much more. There was also some educational activities, where the kids could learn all about the different types of falcons and birds of prey.

The kids got their own falconer passports, and had to go around all the different country tents and collect stamps, and try and answer the questions specific to each country.
When they were done they each got an amazing gift, a backpack with a t-shirt, a cap, colouring book, a CD-ROM game, a board game, information books and leaflets.

The India tent:

The Australia tent:

Outside the NZ tent:

By the UAE pavilion:

The Ukraine tent. I asked how you say "Smile!" in their language, but I'm sure their translator must have told me a lie - because when I said what he told me to say, his two countrymen let out a huge laugh and said "no... no!", ha ha.
But it worked, I got a really happy photo!

Having entered the South America part:

We watched a showcase of rofalconry. Yes, the big "bird" you see is actually a robot, called a robara. It's very similar to a real houbara bird with flapping wings and everything. It is used to train the falcons. They let a falcon attack it and it didn't take it long to bring the robara down:

Finally it was time for the Grand Parade! The horn blowers from Austria started it off:

Prepare for a bit of a photo bomb because everybody was just so beautiful in their traditional dress! Such a sight to see all these very proud falconers and their birds:

The New Zealand brought a 'haka' to the parade!

The girl from Norway looked a little bit lonely, just her with her tiny flag and small bird - but she was very pretty!

When we cheered on the Swedes they stopped and had a talk. I commented on their somewhat Peter-Pan-looking outfits, and they told me they had had to borrow them for this occasion - from the Malmö Opera!

It looked great when they were all in the arena and lined the whole area with their flags, carrying over 100 birds of prey of all shapes and sizes!

Afterward we got treated to a performance of the traditional Emirati folk dance, the Ayyalah:

Before we left the kids also got to hold a beautiful white bird:

Another great day experiencing something new, different and very exciting! 
(And all for free, no entrance fee!)

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