Falconry has expanded to 90 countries across the globe


Abu Dhabi, Marking World Falconry Day, Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Secretary-General of the Emirates Falconers Club (EFC) and President of the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey (IAF), has highlighted the tremendous support accorded to the ancient sport in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).


Al Mansouri expressed deep gratitude to UAE President HH Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, founder of the Emirates Falconers Club HH Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and to the ruler’s representative in Al Dhafra region and Chairman of the club HH Shaikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the tremendous support they have provided.


He also thanked them for the dedicated endeavors and projects to protect heritages and provide the basis for cooperation between different peoples and cultures.


Such efforts comply with the framework of the strategy to preserve the ancient heritage of the Emirates and they are in line with the UAE’s policy to promote a culture of peace and tolerance, and consolidate the pride of the Emiratis in their heritage established by Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, he said.


Al Mansouri praised the efforts of all authorities and institutions concerned with heritage and culture in the country.


The UAE has been particularly instrumental in promoting falconry across the globe since 2005, assuming a leading role.


Thanks to the UAE, later joined by 11 Arab and foreign countries, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced on November 16, 2010, the registration of falconry as a living human heritage in its representative list of intangible cultural heritage.


The announcement was made during the meetings of UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Heritage Committee in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.


Twelve countries, led by the UAE, participated in the registration procedures and preparation of the joint file. They were later joined by Saudi Arabia, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Korea, Morocco, Spain, Syria, Qatar, and Mongolia.


Following the success of the registration procedures in 2010, Austria and Hungary joined in 2012. Portugal, Germany, Italy, Pakistan and Kazakhstan joined in 2016.


In 2019, Poland, Croatia, Netherlands, and Slovakia requested to join the registration process. More countries are expected to join in the coming years.


Thus, the number of countries has doubled to reach 22 today, while the spread of falconry has expanded globally after 11 years of its UNESCO registration.


It is practiced today in 90 countries, thanks to the successful registration process led by the UAE. This also resulted in the inclusion of falconry and many elements of the original UAE cultural heritage with UNESCO.


In appreciation of the important and effective role of the UAE in preserving human heritage and preserving falconry and sustainable hunting, HH Shaikh Mohamed bin Zayed was chosen as the honorary president of the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of birds of prey (IAF) in 2017.


The UAE is one of the first members of the IAF through the membership of the Emirates Falconers Club since 2003.


The IAF is the only global institution representing the sport of falconry and includes 110 falconry clubs and institutions representing 90 countries, with more than 100,000 falconers around the world.


In September 2021, the IAF announced, at the conclusion of its AF general assembly, the unanimous re-election of Al Mansouri as the President of IAF for a new term of three years beginning in early 2022.


The assembly was held on the sidelines of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX 2021).


This reflects the growing global trust in the UAE’s capabilities and the experience and its appreciation of the major role played by Al Mansouri in developing the activities, events, and achievements of the IAF over the past years.


He also succeeded in strengthening the IAF relations with the regional and international organizations concerned with conservation of falconry and human heritage, particularly the UNESCO.


The IAF, during ADIHEX 2021 held a series of specialized seminars and workshops about “The Future of Falconry”, in cooperation with UNESCO and the EFC.


The workshops constituted an important step to enhance the capacities of the countries participating in the falconry registration file at UNESCO, and of all falconry communities around the world alike.


IAF Chief Executive Officer Gary Timbrell and the participants in the meeting attributed the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition to the growth, development, and expansion of the IAF, which now represents 90 countries, up from 35 in 2004 at the first ADIHEX.


He added that over the years, the exhibition hosted many successful conferences on falconry and ways to preserve it, which directly helped us to contribute to the promotion of the UAE’s pioneering initiatives, foremost of which is the registration of falconry in UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.


IAF member Willem Vrijenhoek praised the tireless efforts of the UAE in taking care of falcons with official support from the highest levels and noted that there are many challenges for those interested in preserving falcons and their breeds worldwide.


However, the UAE has always been a pioneer in this field, allocating huge capabilities and international institutions and exhibitions at the highest level in order to promote a culture of interest in falconry among people of different cultures and nationalities.


It also continuously supports the efforts of the IAF to achieve its goals in raising awareness about falcons and their issues in the present and the future, especially with regard to preserving their rare breeds found in several countries, as well as their active contribution to research, development, and care of captive-bred falcon farms.


Source: Bahrain News Agency