x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The UAE's salukis are a matter of national pride

We respect and love the saluki, our national animal that our ancestors used for hunting and protection. So why would we want to hurt them?

I recently came across some controversial articles about salukis, our beloved hunting dogs, which create an inaccurate image of Emiratis, portraying us as “Barbarians” who beat them, break their legs or chop their ears off if they don’t win races.

The publications that print these stereotypes don’t -understand how much they misrepresent the UAE. They bear a heavy responsibility and really should check the information before publishing to avoid causing unnecessary cultural conflicts.

I know that many would say this is attacking freedom of speech, but freedom should never go so far that it harms others.

We respect and love the saluki, our national animal that our ancestors used for hunting and protection. So why would we want to hurt them?

Everyone in our region knows I am one of the biggest activists when it comes to animal conservation. I am an environmental awareness ambassador for the Environment Agency, Abu Dhabi, and would never accept that our salukis are treated -inhumanely.

I admit I have heard stories about how some people hurt their animals, but this can be practised by anyone anywhere in the world who doesn’t appreciate God’s creatures and has almost no heart. So why blame us alone? Why make us the scapegoat for a problem that exists worldwide? All people are humans, but not all humans act decently.

I believe some salukis are being treated badly around the world but it’s wrong to make it look as if we are the only ones who torture them.

In many societies people tend to kill the animals that are hurt or sick or are of no more use to their masters. Unfortunately, some people also do this when their animals underperform in a race, which, in my opinion, is against our Islamic values.

To demonstrate how we appreciate our salukis, we have races that usually take place alongside camel or falcon contests. For instance, one is at the International Festival of Falconry, Al Ain. We also have Arabian saluki beauty competitions at events such as the Abu Dhabi International Hunting & Equestrian Exhibition.

Our government supports organisations such as Animal Action and Dubai Municipality Veterinary Clinic to make sure the animals are taken care of and protected. The Arabian Saluki Center is another example.

Let’s help raise awareness together about this global issue by adopting a saluki, volunteering at the Arabian Saluki Center or funding an animal rescue organisation. That way, our special hunting animal will continue to be protected, our image won’t get damaged and no one gets hurt.