Falconry has deep roots in Emirati culture, making it more than a simple pastime in the UAE. Bedouins used the birds as hunters and relied on their catch for much-needed nutrients in the desert. Unfortunately, the falcons’ main prey, the houbara bustard, has gone extinct in the region, so they are delivered from Morocco and elsewhere instead. Many Emiratis also choose to take their precious falcons abroad for hunts in places such as Pakistan and Iran. In fact, the UAE government issues official passports to the birds and national airlines Emirates and Etihad offer them special transportation privileges. Of course, despite the many complexities surrounding the Emirati national bird, there are various opportunities nearby for admiring these extraordinary creatures!
Royal Shaheen Events
The falconers at Royal Shaheen come from around the world to demonstrate the beauty and strength of their birds. They offer a range of displays and interactions including sunset presentations in the desert and hands-on flights, as well as an “Introductory Falconry Course” to demonstrate the proper care and training techniques for new and potential falcon owners. The company also offers various commercial services that include “eco-friendly avian pest control solutions-” namely pigeon population reduction, birds of prey for media projects, private excursions and scientific research support.
Dubai Falcon Hospital
Founded in 1983 by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Dubai Falcon Hospital has offered world-class care to birds of prey. For those interested in getting a closer look at the center, clinical internship and research opportunities are available with on-site accommodation and food.
Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Operating with the support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital also provides exceptional falcon care. In 2007, it also launched the award-winning interactive “Falcon World Tour” for guests of all ages and interests. Tour packages can be purchased online here.