ABU DHABI // Prizes worth more than Dh1 million are on offer in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Falconry Competition this month.
More than 500 birds are expected to take to the skies over the five-day contest, which will highlight three disciplines.
Starting on November 29, owners and their birds will converge on Shabkhat Al Sarami at Al Wathba for the event at the Etisalat Village.
The biggest prize – Dh250,000 and a Lexus SUV worth about Dh400,000 – will go to the owner of the falcon that covers 400 metres in the fastest time. The birds need to complete the course in less than 20 seconds to get past the first of three rounds.
The 30 fastest birds will qualify for the final.
In the second event, falcons will follow a model plane with a "bait" bird trailing behind it. The winner will be the falcon that flies the longest distance and time.
"It's a new technique," said Mohammed Al Mahmood, general secretary of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council. "It's the first time it has been done in a competition. There will be a lot of action and fun for everyone attending this."
In the third competition, the birds will be timed from the ground to a balloon 200 metres in the air. "This competition is more linked with how strong the falcon's muscles are and how powerful it is at climbing," Mr Al Mahmood said. Instead of speed on the flat, he compared it with running up stairs.
Along with the cash prizes, 18 luxury cars will be up for grabs. Two of them will be awarded in a raffle.
So far, 175 owners have registered and Mr Al Mahmood said he expects many more by the time registration closes on November 20.
"It is the first time we have done this in Abu Dhabi," he said. "We are expecting entries from across the GCC and other countries because we received so many requests from abroad. We hope it will become an annual event."
Registration is open at www.fcad.ae to anyone with a falcon.