ABU DHABI // The 11th Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition opened its doors to the public yesterday, leading them into a world of everything Emirati.
Caravans, boats and even Porsches were on display, amid rows of falcons and folk dancers.
Passing through metal detectors, visitors entered a world of guns, from high-powered rifles with scopes to tiny pistols.
At the heart of it all was the arena, where Emirati Bedouin horsemaster Ali Al Ameri and his son, Suhail, kicked off the first of Adihex’s main shows.
Suhail performed acrobatic tricks on a fast-running mare, hanging upside-down by the horse’s side and then turning 180 degrees in a single move – before riding backwards.
Then the announcer introduced Ali, the “legend”.
Mr Al Ameri gave a demonstration of body language, giving silent commands to two horses. At one point, he had one sit still while the other stood on its hind legs.
As he walked around the venue, the two horses followed – with no audible command.
At a demonstration of traditional Emirati folk dancing, Zayed Al Mansoori, whose family has lived in Abu Dhabi for generations, led one of the lines.
“It is a traditional dance people use to celebrate any holidays or celebrations – Eid, weddings,” and, he joked, “Christmas. Even today, people still do it. It’s a tradition.
“The young boys will watch the older men, their leaders, and follow it.”
Across the Adnec exhibition hall, past the shops selling dates, falcon accessories, coffee, perfume and other Emirati goods, men and women stared down gun scopes and inspected knives.
Saif Al Marzooqi, associate director of corporate communications at the defencegroupTawazun, said it had good cause for celebration.It had just announced the merger of two subsidiary firms.
“The exhibition is quite busy for us because we’re launching a product for one of our new subsidiaries called Caracal,” he said.
Two of Tawazun’s subsidiaries, Caracal International and Tawazun Advanced Defence Systems, merged under Caracal, he added.
The stall displayed mainly hunting and sports guns for sale, but also military weapons.
While members of the public could buy hunting and sports weapons, Mr Al Marzooqi said purchasing them was a long process.
Military weapons were only there for display, he said. They could only be sold to the Government, not citizens.
“In the Middle East, especially with the UAE and the GCC, guns have become part of the culture,”Mr Al Marzooqi said.
“Even before they discovered oil in this region, people depended on the gun; they felt they were part of the family. And you can see from the way they protect guns, the way they use them – they really care about them.
“Historically, they would travel from place to place and there were a lot of dangerous things that could happen so they used hunting weapons to protect themselves.”
Mr Al Marzooqi said everyone, rich or poor, could afford some sort of gun.
“You can find something cheap on the market but it might not be reliable. Or, you can pay a bit more and rely on it.
“We’re so proud of our products because they’re manufactured in the UAE,made by UAE hands.
“And we use very high-tech, a very high standard of quality of materials and we’re always trying to meet international standards.