ABU DHABI // Mohammed Al Menhali had never held a bow and arrow before he stepped up to Al Forsan archery challenge yesterday on the opening day of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition.
"It was just something I thought would be fun to do," said Mr Al Menhali, who struggled with the large bow at first but cheered when his arrow hit the target.
The Qatari equestrian competition manager has come to Adihex for the past two years in search of products for his horses and camels.
"I need the best for them," said Mr Al Menhali.
He was one of hundreds of visitors on the first day of the annual event.
Nearly 600 exhibitors from an estimated 28 countries packed the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (Adnec) for the region's only hunting, equestrian and outdoor sport show.
Wares on offer included from shotguns embellished with animal prints to a vibrating exercise floor for horses.
Sellers said the four-day event had begun smoothly.
"We've already had a lot of people come by to see us," said Mohammed Arbabi, the sales supervisor of Al Hadaf Company, a Kuwaiti hunting and sports equipment company that has participated in Adihex since 2007.
"This exhibition brings a lot of countries together," said Mr Arbabi. "Our clients don't always get to come to Kuwait to see us, so they get to meet us here."
In the falconry area of the exhibition, five birds had been sold at the Falcon Centre before the doors officially opened at 5pm.
Along the back wall of Adnec, the queue for target practice with a paintball gun blocked the main walkway.
At the Tamreen Sports stand, staff were busy showing off exclusive pieces to the knife collectors who crowded around the glass cases.
At the pavilion for the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), traditional Emirati events and activities raised awareness about the UAE and its culture.
"This is a great cultural exhibition, because not only does it celebrate local heritage, it also explains it to the expatriate population," said Dr Sulayman Khalaf, an expert on intangible heritage at Adach.
The authority is hosting a traditional games corner and three hospitality areas at its stand, in addition to a handicrafts area and a painting and photography contest.
Adihex will run until Saturday from 11am to 10pm.
The event features camel auctions, Saluki and falcon beauty contests, art competitions and traditional hunting and equestrian activities.
Visitors will also have the opportunity to purchase the latest camping, hunting, equestrian and weaponry equipment from more than 500 brands.
For Maryna de Klerk, a jewellery designer from South Africa, Adihex is a chance to show off her creativity.
Ms de Klerk, who has attended the exhibition for the past three years, makes bright and bejewelled Saluki collars.
"The antique Saluki collars were just so elaborate and beautiful and all the modern ones I was seeing were boring, so I just started making my own," said Ms de Klerk, who fashions her products out of cotton and beads.
"Adihex brings people together and helps those of us outside this fantastic heritage and background to be exposed to it."
Other event highlights include competitions on preparing Arabic coffee the traditional way, writing the best research paper on Arab hunting or equestrian traditions and presenting the finest hunting, equestrian and heritage paintings.
The exhibition will also include a nabati poetry competition.
Prizes will be given in one of three categories - the best poem describing a bird, the best poem describing a hunting trip and the best poem about losing a bird.