x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Abu Dhabi gears up for a full season of falconry contests

After last year's success, the Abu Dhabi Falconry Competition will be back in force this year with a five-month tournament culminating in February 2013.

A contestant releases his falcon in the rate-of-ascent category, where the bird must reach a balloon 200 metres above the ground, at last year's Abu Dhabi Falconry Competition at Al Wathba Area. Ravindranath K / The National
A contestant releases his falcon in the rate-of-ascent category, where the bird must reach a balloon 200 metres above the ground, at last year's Abu Dhabi Falconry Competition at Al Wathba Area. Ravindranath K / The National

ABU DHABI // Sports officials plan to launch a full season of falconry competitions this year.

The success of the Abu Dhabi Falconry Competition in November encouraged officials to plan a longer tournament, the Abu Dhabi Sports Council (ADSC) said yesterday.

The President's Cup for Falconry Competitions 2013-14 will have a purse of Dh13 million, which will be spread across three categories and feature different types of falcons, said Mohammed Ebraheem Al Mahmood, general secretary of the sports council.

The competition will be run by the Emirates Falconry Club. Mr Al Mahmood said more details will be released by the club in the coming months.

The competition will begin in October and each month there will be elimination rounds within each of the disciplines. The season will end with a 10-day competition in February 2014.

"It'll be almost the same as last year," Mr Al Mahmood said.

The first competition will feature falcons covering 400 metres in the fastest time, usually under 20 seconds.

In the second competition, falcons follow a bait bird trailed behind a model plane. The winning falcon will be the one that flies the farthest distance and for the longest time. The event was introduced at the contest in November and was a success, Mr Al Mahmood said.

In the third competition, the falcon's strength will be tested as it flies from the ground to a balloon 200 metres in the air.

There will be two separate tournaments. One for sheikhs and one for the general public. Each tournament will have six rounds spread over the five months.

The best falconer of the season will be selected at the end of the season by the number of points he collects.

The previous competition lasted five days and saw 650 falconers compete with 1,200 birds.

"In the last competition we had positive and negative feedback and we took all the negative things from our participants on board and came up with this proposal" to extend the tournament, Mr Al Mahmood said.

The ADSC chairman, Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed, said: "Falconry competitions in the UAE are getting wide care and support from the President, Sheikh Khalifa, as His Highness is so keen to maintain the sports of our ancestors as well as maintaining the dear heritage of our beloved country."

The sports council, he said, added the President's Cup for Falconry to its portfolio of cultural sports that aim to encourage the practice of sports played for generations in the UAE.

Sheikh Nahyan said the event would enhance the coherence of Emiratis and national identity, and would maintain the country's heritage.

"This adds to the all the traditional sports we have now in Abu Dhabi," Mr Al Mahmood said. "We have the horse racing, camel racing, the traditional dhow sailing races and now with the falconry competition we feel the map is completed."

eharnan@thenational.ae