Arabs and Falconry



                                    Arabs and Falconry


              Falconry in the Arabian World is something entirely different than in the West, it was originally a method of obtaining food. Today it is recognized by UNESCO as a living Intangible human heritage.

           I also visited with H Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.    He bought some birds from me but he was more interested in wild caught falcons and promoted the release of these birds after the hunting season so wild populations would not be harmed.

            Today 2007, many Arabs own about a dozen Falcon breeding projects in Europe and breed several thousand birds.

It is surprising how little even some so called educated people in the west know about falconry and the way the sport is practiced in the Middle East. 

Falconry could very well be used to start a peaceful dialog between people in the west and the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula.  I believe this is more important then teaching people about terrorists, security and all the other blown up problems of the region.

The first thing that impressed me when I came in contact with Arabs, was their enormous belief in God and how diligently they practised their faith.  I thought that I was brought up in a strict religious society but I found out that for an Arab, all matters seemed to be governed by their belief and by the Holy Koran.  I was surprised, that even falconry or the hunting with birds was strictly mentioned.

In 1968 I felt like a King, or the Emperor, Frederick II.

I had managed to obtain from the Province of Quebec white gyrfalcons, the crown of creation for anyone that is interested in falconry.

I was "floating on cloud nine”, the only Canadian at that time, who possessed birds like this, but like many medieval kings and emperors that owned falcons I was also flat broke in those days.  My dream to breed these birds in a farm like setting with big aviaries and elaborate exercise pens like I have them today seemed like a cloud in the distance.

I knew that Arabs liked falcons and that many of them had become very wealthy through oil, so why not try to interested one of them in a joint falcon breeding venture.  This was the driving force behind some letters with pictures of my birds that I sent to Arab royalty. The first one to answer by phone, was H.H. Prince Sultan from Saudi Arabia who was training at the time as a jet pilot in the US.  His Highness was very interested to buy all my falcons but not in a joint venture of  a breeding project. Perhaps I was a good birdman, but a lousy diplomat or salesman.

For the time being my meager single room pen on a 50 X 150 foot lot and temporary facilities to tie up the birds had to do.  I had great problems with gyrfalcons I got from the wild, they seamed to die from al kinds of deseases and therefore  I kept them of the ground on a wire floor.

The most interesting letter I received came from the Ruler of Qatar.  It contained a valid airline ticket to Geneva, Switzerland and an invitation to talk the matter over at Sheikh Achmed Al Thanie’s  summer residence.

For me it was two presents in one, after eight years in Canada I was able to visit my father, in Germany and at the same time, meet with Sheikh Achmed in a castle like residence bordering lake Geneva.  The Ruler of Qatar treated me well and made me feel welcome.  I realized after a short time, that his main passion was falconry  and on this subject we were on one level.

TO BE CONTINUED................................