READING, UK // Relations between the UAE and Britain reached new heights yesterday. It happened as magnificent birds of prey soared above the English countryside near Reading, west of London, at the Second International Festival of Falconry, sponsored by the Emirates Falconers' Club. Among more than 10,000 visitors to the weekend event was England's Prince Andrew, who was presented with a gyrfalcon, the largest of all falcons, by Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoun, the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach).
The presentation was one of the high spots of three days of events at Englefield Park that featured not just flying displays by participants from 50 nations but also a Bedouin camp, complete with camels; a Mongolian yurt; a medieval Austrian encampment; and a Japanese tea ceremony. There were also horse and dog displays and thousands of wide-eyed children among the crowds. It was, said Dr Nick Fox, director of the festival, "a wonderful opportunity for them to see, in action, the sort of relationships that man can have with birds and animals".
One of the stars of the festival was 82-year-old Hannaaman Movlamov, who had travelled thousands of kilometres from his native Turkmenistan to be at the festival. Regarded as something of a legend in the raptor world, Mr Movlamov has flown saker falcons all his life and runs falconry courses for people of all ages at his desert camp in Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, representatives from Adach will meet with experts from other Arab countries in London today to discuss the joint submission to Unesco of falconry as part of the world's intangible human heritage.
The UAE state news agency, WAM, said that, should the bid be accepted, it would protect falconry as a practice for future generations. email@example.com