ABU DHABI // Organisers of a hunting exhibition planned for October say falcons should no longer be taken from the wild if the future of the birds and the sport they represent is to be protected. That is one of the messages that will be central to the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, due to be held at the Abu Dhabi Exhibition Centre from Oct 8 to 11.
"This exhibition has so many goals," said Abdullah al Qubaisi, a member of the organising committee and exhibition director. "One of the things we want to do this year is to help preserve the environment and wildlife. "We're promoting the use of captive-bred falcons and birds for hunting from Europe rather than the UAE falcons in order to protect them." The exhibition, he said, was "vital in promoting the tradition and culture here".
"Hunting has been a part of the UAE and GCC countries for generations. Skills and knowledge are passed down from father to son, the skills learnt from hunting. We want to keep that going." This year's show will also feature a horse beauty contest, hunting-dog competitions, photography contests, Arabic poetry readings, traditional dancing and art workshops. Organisers have warned that the buying and selling of hunting weapons and falcons at the exhibition will be tightly controlled and not permitted without full documentation. Approval must be granted from Abu Dhabi Police to buy firearms and passport copies and photographs must be produced.
The trade in falcons is governed by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, to which the UAE has been a signatory since 1990. No birds can be bought, sold or even displayed without approval. A special security committee will be at the exhibition to oversee all trade in weapons and falcons. "One of the greatest achievements of the exhibition is that we are able to promote the use of hybrid [captive-bred] birds for falconry instead of endangered wild falcons, and activate plans to maintain a balance between heritage and environmental protection," said Mohammed Khalaf al Mazrouei, the chairman of the organising committee and a board member of the Emirates Falconers' Club.
This year's exhibition is set to be one of the largest, featuring more than 430 companies, ranging from horse breeders to manufacturers of hunting weapons, from more than 35 countries. Some of the horse-breeding world's most influential groups will be attending the show for the first time this year, including Newmarket and Equiros. Launched in 2003, more than 86,000 visitors attended the show last year.