Festival in Khalifa Park: 8-9 December 2017

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With this year’s Festival focusing on Youth, many activities are designed with children and young adults in mind. Join exciting games, listen to thrilling stories of falcons and salukis, take part in interactive workshops, and meet real falconers who will introduce you to birds and hunting dogs.

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Be a falconer

In the Arabian Pavilion, don’t miss the chance to experience what it’s like to be a falconer! Learn from a professional how to handle a falcon, have it perch on your glove, explore different falconry equipment and learn how it is used. Find out how falconers track their lost birds using modern GPS telemetry.

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Meet Falcons, Salukis and Houbara

At the Arabian Pavilion, get close to beautiful falcons and learn where they come from, how they hunt, and how fast they can fly. Did you know that they each have a different personality? At the UAE Pavilion, meet saluki hunting dogs and enjoy the company of houbara bustard, the favourite hunting quarry of Arabian falconers.

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Game On

At the Children’s tent, learn about different types of raptors and the prey they eat through games and competitions. Follow the migration routes of saker falcons and houbara, and learn about bird anatomy. Get a falconer passport and use a treasure map to explore, getting your passport stamped as you visit the Falconry Nations tents.

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Falconry Art Time

Free your creative side at falconry-inspired art workshops led by professional artists. Model birds of prey using clay; paint and draw; learn how to make origami falcons, and make a paper falcon hood. Learn about raptors’ digestive system by dissecting a pellet! Young adults can learn how artists decorate falconry equipment such as hood and bags.

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Storytelling

Enjoy thrilling and ancient stories about houbara, salukis and falcons from professional storytellers.

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Raptors and Falconry Around the World

In the Falconry Nations area, make friends with young falconers from around the world and learn about the special falconry schools they attend, the raptors and the different styles of falconry they practise. Learn about nomadic traditions from Central Asia while building a real Yurt!

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Take part in practical workshops suitable for all ages, on how to repair broken feathers, handle a falcon, track a lost bird, make your own transmitter and other falconry equipment, and much more. Learn how the ancient art of falconry lives alongside new technologies and training methods.

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Telemetry

Learn how falconers track their lost birds using radio transmitters and GPS systems. Every falconer has their preferred type of telemetry; learn the differences between them, and how technology helps falconers in their art. Make your own radio transmitter and see if you can fit it on a falcon!

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Display of remote-controlled lure

Falconers sometimes use remote-controlled lures, kites, balloons and drones to train raptors. This technology can help falcons get fit, but is also fun for the falconer! Come and watch the technique behind controlling a remote lure. It might look easy, but it takes a lot of practice!

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Hoodmaking demonstration

If you look around the festival area, you will see falcons wearing a special mask, called a hood. Come and learn why falconers use hoods, which hoods are used for different birds of prey, and how they are decorated. Watch hoods being made throughout the day and have a go at making one yourself.

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Workshop on leatherwork and decorating hoods & bags

Falconers take great pride in having beautiful handmade equipment for their birds. Throughout the festival you will see falcons with stunning leather hoods that are sometimes decorated with intricate patterns and even jewels. Learn how to decorate a hood and other leather items from a professional leather artist. Have a go at making jesses, and maybe even a lure.

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Meet live houbara and saluki dogs, as you hear about the various state-led conservation and falconry heritage initiatives in the UAE. In a Bedouin tent, close your eyes and listen to Nabati poetry and let it take you on a journey to the heart of the desert and to its inhabitants and their lifestyle.

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Salukis and houbara

Get close to saluki hunting dogs how they have hunted with Arab falconers for centuries, and their role as reliable hunting partners. Marvel at their beauty and get to know their individual characters. Encounter houbara bustard, the favoured quarry of Arabian falconers, while learning about their conservation by the International Fund for Houbara Conservation.

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Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

Abu Dhabi has one of the only specialised hospitals for birds of prey in the world. Meet the amazing people who treat sick and injured falcons, often using falconry techniques in their work. The Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital is a focal point for young avian vets, and each year students from all over the world compete for internships here. Have you ever thought of becoming an avian vet? Come and be inspired.

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Al Ain Zoo

Al Ain Zoo will have on display a selection or raptors from UAE and beyond. Here you can learn more about eagles and owls and how they fly and what they hunt.

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Sheikh Muhammed Museum

Will display an exhibition about history of falconry.

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Hundreds of falconers from over 80 countries will be coming together to celebrate and share knowledge, and learn about the traditions, techniques, and equipment used by their colleagues around the world. Festival visitors can discover a colourful, multicultural, and multilingual fair and meet young and old falconers in their national dress from all corners of the planet.

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Explore the Falconry Nations area and meet falconers from around the world in their traditional costumes. Meet those youths from Poland, Slovakia, Spain, South Africa, and Zimbabwe who they attend special falconry schools. Learn about the hawks, eagles and falcons they fly, how they take care of them, and the different equipment they use.

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The Festival highlights their unique heritage and celebrates their common passion: the art of falconry.

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Falconers from the Gulf region will be gathering in the Arabian Falconry Pavilion, where you can enjoy unparalleled hospitality, sample some delicious Arabic coffee, and relax in the company of falcons.

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Pay a visit to the Steppe Village with its yurts designed to withstand the strong winds of the Asian Steppe. Say hello to Kazakh and Mongolian falconers who hunt with golden eagles on horseback. Explore the equipment they use and let them tell you about falconry in their home country. Take part in the Yurt building competition!

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From North America, the Tipi Village brings a flavour of the Great Plains and its native cultures. Listen to the sounds of the grouse and run your fingers through the buffalo skin furs.

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Visit the Falconry Schools’ tents to learn how young apprentices in different countries attend specialised schools to receive education in the art of falconry, often as part of their everyday curriculum.

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Take a journey from falconry’s past and into the future. Learn about the achievements and future priorities of the growing international community of falconers and falconry organisations. Discover the role the UAE played in the UNESCO inscription of falconry as Intangible Cultural Heritage, and get an insight into the many ways falconers are involved in nature conservation.

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International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey

The International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF) is the global voice for falconry. The IAF unites 110 organisations in 86 countries. Drop by and see how the IAF has made a difference worldwide since 1968.

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IAF Young Falconers

IAF Young Falconers’ Group supports falconry amongst the youth by creating direct links between budding falconers all around the world, exchanging ideas and inspiring each other. Come and find out how they see future of falconry.

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IAF Women’s Working Group

The mission of the Women’s Working Group is to assist women falconers around the world through education, promotion, networking and mentoring, as we seek to practise falconry as a hunting tradition. We also document women’s role in the history of our art: many women have contributed to the history, methodology and community of falconry worldwide. The IAF’s Board and Advisory Committee includes women falconers, and there are women falconers serving as National Delegates in the IAF Council.

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IAF School Links Programme

The School Links Programme was established in 2010 as part of the Mongolian Artificial Nest Project, with the aim of ensuring the longevity of the 5000 artificial nests erected on the Mongolian Steppe. It now links students in 38 schools worldwide, in Austria, Bulgaria, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, and the UK, USA and UAE.Mongolian schools visit artificial nests near their homes and communicate with their international peers about falcon biology and conservation, and falconers visit classes with their hawks.Come and meet the team behind this amazing project. Maybe your school would like to join the programme, or perhaps you are a falconer who would like to take part?

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The First Falconry Festival, 1976: photo exhibition

This exhibition will display a collection of photographs telling the story of the first World Conference on Falconry and Conservation, which took place in the UAE in 1976, and which became the 1st International Festival of Falconry. The exhibition is also a celebration of the UAE’s role in the UNESCO inscription, and will highlights the achievements and outcomes of this festival.

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Falconry and conservation

This exhibit will highlight projects managed and initiated by falconers in the Middle East and around the world. Falconers have had an instrumental role in researching, monitoring, and restoring threatened populations of wild raptors.

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Youth cultural exchange majlis

Here, in a Bedouin tent, young falconers can exchange ideas with other young falconers from around the world. The next generation of falconers is here to carry the falconry torch into the future.

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Watch the world go by, relaxing in the company of falcons and salukis. Experience the amazing hospitality of the falconers of the Gulf region, and hear their stories over an Arabic coffee. Young visitors will enjoy exciting tales of the houbara.

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Weathering area

The weathering area hosts all the falcons of the Emirates Falconers’ Club. Here you can see the birds up close, learn about their personalities and lives, and watch them preen and relax. At first all falcons might look the same, but if you spend enough time watching them you will see the subtle differences in colour, size and shape. Can you tell which one is a peregrine and which one is a saker? What is the difference between males and females? And which birds do Arab falconers prefer? You may even have a falcon perch on your arm.

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Bedouin tent

Come and join falconers in a Bedouin tent and learn about Arab falconry as a desert way of life. Explore the beautiful handmade falconry equipment and learn how it is made and used. Listen to exciting stories about hunting and desert life.

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Lean about the Mohamed bin Zayed Desert and Physiognomy School – the first school in the world dedicated to teaching the principles and practice of Arabian falconry and promoting its cultural value for future generations. The School will hold several workshops and talks throughout the festival. 

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The Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School has been established to pass on the principles and practice of Arabian falconry to the next generation, and promote its unique features and traditions to sustain this important aspect of cultural heritage in the United Arab Emirates. The school commemorates the achievements of the pioneering falconer the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and aims to raise awareness of national and international policies and legislation to ensure Arabian falconry is sustainable and preserved for future generations.

The site of the school was selected for the beauty of the desert environment that surrounds it. The location allows students to learn falconry in the same desert environment where Bedouin have hunted for centuries, to develop an understanding of the ‘face of the desert’ (physiognomy) and recognize the plants and animals that live there. The architecture of the school is inspired by the beautiful design of Qasr Al Ain, where his Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan was born and raised.

The school equips learners of all ages with the knowledge, skills and experiences they need to become practicing falconers. Students are taught the principles of Arabian falconry including species of falcons used, falcon training methods, hunting of traditional quarry, common falcon diseases and treatment, falcon nutrition, the biology of falcons and falconry equipment needed.

The Mohamed bin Zayed Falconry and Desert Physiognomy School opened its doors to its first students on the 15 December 2016.  Our weekend courses start as the hunting season begins and students can enroll in our four level curriculum for age groups 7-12 years old, 13-17 years old and adults. Local and international schools are encouraged to participate in our weekday or remote learning courses.

The School will hold the following talks during the Festival:

All about Mohamed Bin Zayed Falconry & Desert Physiognomy School

by Nicola Dixon, UK/UAE

Find out how to be a falconer and learn about falconry heritage in the UAE.

Presentation about Falconry Heritage in the UAE

by Nicola Dixon, UK/UAE

Presentation about falconry species used in Arabic falconry

by Andrew Dixon, UK/UAE

Learn the biology of Saker, Peregrine and Gyrfalcon, there origins and migration

Presentation about Arabic falconry, equipment

by Nicola Dixon, UK/UAE

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International Falconry Schools from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Spain, Poland and Slovakia will hold workshops and talks throughout the two day Festival.

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Penryn College, South Africa 

Penryn College, in Mpumalanga Province, South Africa, has had a falconry club since 2001. At Penryn, an interest in hawking is a route towards learning not just practical falconry, but also ecology, sustainable use, and falconry heritage. Many pupils from the falconry club at Penryn have gone on to become zoologists, veterinarians and field guides. www.penryn.co.za.

Falcon College, Zimbabwe

Falcon College is a secondary boarding school in Zimbabwe, southern Africa. The College Falconry Club has 20 members, with 11 birds being flown, including a Martial Eagle.  The Headmaster of the College has two breeding pairs of Peregrines and flies another Peregrine and a Black Sparrowhawk, while the Falconry Master flies two Peregrines and a Lanner Falcon. The current president of the International Association for Falconry, Dr Adrian Lombard, is a former student of Falcon College. www.falconcollege.com.

Evan Wellock, David Mann, Patrick van Wyk, Michael Learmonth, Christopher Hayes and Brandon Godfrey from Falcon College will talk about Hawking in Africa.

Join Falcon College to hear how our young falconers hunt in the African bush with their indigenous birds of prey, and listen to some of the interesting encounters they have had with wildlife while hawking.

The University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Košice, Slovakia

The University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy in Košice is Slovakia’s sole veterinary university, offering EU-standard veterinary education in the English language. The university is known for the practical experience offered through its clinics, farm, wildlife facility and equestrian grounds. www.uvlf.sk.

ADAJA Falconry Camp, Spain

Every summer in Spain, Avium organizes the ADAJA Falconry Camp. Children between seven and 15 years old live with a team of falconry birds and experienced falconers. For 15 days they share their passion for falconry following a complete program of activities. www.adaja.es.

Dr. Javier Ceballos and Lucía Borque will talk about the Camp, come and learn about how to join it!

The other Schools that will take part in the Festival are:

Tuchola Forest School, Poland

and Maximilián Hell School, Slovakia

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