Libmonster ID: KZ-2158
Author(s) of the publication: Yu. N. ZININ


Candidate of Historical Sciences

In this clinic near Abu Dhabi-the capital of the United Arab Emirates, as elsewhere, they receive and treat patients. But they don't lie in their wards or walk around in their pajamas in the hallways, but are strapped to perches in small boxes.

This specialized medical center for falcons has existed for more than a decade. On average, according to its director, it provides a variety of assistance over the course of a year. They issue certificates about their condition (according to the price list, it costs about $40), do tests in the laboratory of molecular biology, operate, etc.

This, by the way, is not the only hospital for hunting birds in the Emirates, which indicates the popularity of falconry among local residents, which has deep roots.


It is known that even the ancient Egyptians let falcons trained by them on rodents who devoured grain on currents.

In Arabia, the origins of this occupation in the pre-Islamic era allegedly stood tribal leader Haris ben Kinda. According to the parable, one day he saw a sparrow struggling in a nomad's snare, and a falcon swooped down on him, which also became entangled in the trap.

The sheikh then exclaimed ," Why, a falcon is much better than a bow and arrow!" So the word "bizra" entered the lexicon of the Arabs, which meant the art of training and handling a bird to catch animals. They hunted game with her, which was a great help to the poor diet of the Arabians.

The well-trained and loyal falcon was revered by the Bedouins as a family member. Tribal poets in their verses described the beauty of flight and fighting qualities of birds, praised the prowess of falconers, their valor and generosity.

With the advent of Islam, hunting was influenced by its ethics. Sharia law imposed a taboo on eating the meat of birds that obtained food with their claws, in particular, the falcon, eagle, hawk, etc.

But it was allowed to eat poultry dishes that did not use claws when attacking-pigeon, partridge, etc. At the same time, poultry meat obtained from falconry was considered slaughtered according to Islamic traditions and therefore equated to halal, i.e. allowed for consumption.

Over time, an unwritten code emerged that encouraged hunters to behave chivalrously: not to pursue sick or injured birds, females during egg laying, etc.

During the Islamic conquests, many Arabian tribes settled in cities. Hunting turned into a gambling activity and fun, especially for the upper classes of society and the nobility. Baghdad Caliph Harun Al-Rashid in the IX century. introduced the tradition of giving falcons to distinguished subjects, friends for special merits.

In 1899, the ruler of Kuwait, Sheikh Mubarek, as a sign of respect for the officers of the Russian gunboat Gilyak, arranged a falconry in the desert for them. Then the boat, while sailing in the Persian Gulf, entered the port of the principality.


The indigenous population of the Emirates, "catapulted" with the beginning of the oil era from the world of clay huts to the realm of megacities made of glass and concrete, retained attachment to the hobby of their ancestors.

This can be seen by visiting the National Falconry Center, located in Markada, a suburb of Dubai. The road to it from the office where I worked ran along the arm of the sea that divided the city into two parts.

In the waters of this wide bay, the reflections of standing skyscrapers were bathed: international banks, oil and insurance companies, hotels, shopping and entertainment centers, which gave Dubai-a cosmopolitan city with a multi-lingual population-an appearance

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Manhattan on the Gulf coast.

The sun-baked asphalt and walls of buildings breathed heat. A racetrack and Camel Market flashed by, and finally the Falcon Center came into view. In addition to the pavilions where everything necessary for hunting was sold, it included a platform for training hunting birds, a museum and a mosque.

Here they sold equipment for the falconry: a "muff" made of a hard mat, worn on a person's arm up to the elbow, a protective glove-koff, on which they hold a falcon. For birds, a roost is a pole with a round nozzle, a burka, or a leather hood covering its head and eyes with a slot for the beak.

In captivity, the falcon is kept under a hood, because a bird with sharp eyesight and torn out of its natural environment can get very stressed from the huge flow of information.

The pavilion was filled with the fragrant smell of Bedouin coffee with cardamom. This strong, greenish-brown drink was poured from large copper dalli pots into small oval cups without handles. Over a cup of coffee, I met Bader Armazan, an instructor-trainer. "The falcon comes to us for wintering from faraway lands, from the north, two months before the arrival of bustards and avdotka - the main objects of hunting," he explained.

For true connoisseurs of a bird, everything is important: its size, wingspan, color, gender. Preference is given to females. They are larger and stronger than males. The gyrfalcon, which is found in the polar regions and Siberia, Armazan noted, has the highest rating among amateurs. It surpasses its fellows in speed and strength. Then there are peregrine falcon, balaban, silver cheglok.

Two Emiratis standing nearby, evidently experts on falcons, were drawn into the conversation, eager to open the eyes of a foreigner to the falcon. "Whatever breed the falcon is, a lot depends on the training of the feathered bird," the instructor said."Both young birds of one year and older ones can be tamed."

During training, the falcon is released, and the bait from the feathers of the killed prey is slowly dragged on a long rope. The bird swoops down on it: this operation is repeated many times.

Some owners do not spare money to pamper their pets. In the center, you could buy such delicacies for falcons as fresh quails, frozen one-day hatched chickens, mice, etc.

The falcon is taught to take food from the owner's hands and respond to its nickname. Well-trained birds recognize and respond even to the voice of the owner. Popular bird names: Valiant, Indomitable, Victorious, etc. Some birds with good care live up to 20 years.


Traditionally, the falcon hunting season used to start annually in the last days of August. At that time, the star Canopus occupied the highest position in the sky, the air was getting cooler, which is important for falcons, which do not tolerate extreme heat.

The main object of hunting is the belladonna bustard. This bird was often called stupid by the Arabs, because it sometimes mixes up its nest and sits in another, nursing other people's chicks. At the same time, it is sensitive to danger, flies well, runs quickly on the ground, and is adept at disguising itself.

Hunters go out to hunt at dawn, when the desert lives in its pristine silence. Finding signs of bustard tracks, they remove the hood from the falcon's head, and the falcon, catching the scent of prey, soars up.

Cutting through the air with its strong wings, it soars above the ground and can integrate into the air stream, which increases the flight speed, sometimes up to 200 km per hour.

The duel between a falcon and a drofa is an exciting sight. The bustard tries to dodge, dramatically changing its speed and altitude in the range from 50 to 1500 m. The falcon chases its prey.

Bustard gets tired faster, it sits down, rushes on the ground, hiding in the thickets of alpha or sagebrush. There, a fight ensues, in which the falcon delivers powerful blows with its beak and claws, and the bustard desperately fights back. Its weapons are not only wings and claws, but also a viscous substance that the bird spits out to glue the falcon's feathers together. If such a spit hits the target, it shackles the predator's movements, and the bustard manages to escape. If not, the falcon wins.


In 1963, David Holden, a British journalist who worked in the Persian Gulf, described a scene where a dozen baskets of bound falcons were loaded onto a plane en route from Baghdad to Dubai. They were taken for sale in the Arabian markets. Prices for them then broke a record, reaching $400 apiece.

Since then, the ranks of falcons have grown significantly - according to statistics, in the first decade of the XXI century in the UAE there were several thousand of them. Accordingly, prices soared up. According to instructor Bader Armazan, a bird of prey under the age of one year can cost from 25 to 60 thousand dirhams ($7-16 thousand).

At the same time, the cult of falconry as a heritage of ancestors and cultural heritage was supported at the very top of the state.

In institutions, on the streets of Emirati cities, one could see portraits of a thin, small man, often riding a hot steed with a falcon on his arm - the founder of the country, its first president, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (Sheikh of Abu Dhabi, 1918-2004).

He wrote poems and essays, praising the old hobby. According to the sheikh, it drew people from different strata of modern society into the orbit of communication, imbuing them with the spirit of collectivism. The President admitted that participating in the hunt enriched his knowledge about the life of his subjects, their problems and concerns.

In a traditional society, the opinions, statements and personal example of the Sheikh-president have a great resonance with the views and behavior of ordinary citizens and government representatives.

Over the past decades, a whole industry has developed under the patronage of the authorities, working for falcons: from selling various attributes and raising birds to clubs, competitions, scientific forums, etc. But the bustard population in the Emirates and in the Arabian Peninsula as a whole has declined significantly during this period. Flocks of falcons arriving for the winter have also thinned out. This is caused both by the growing number of hunters,

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overexploitation of wildlife, as well as general environmental degradation in the region and the world.

Against the background of a shortage, some fans are ready to pay fabulous sums for a rarity. Russian Alexey Ivanov, a representative of the company Acartes, which was engaged in the sale of falcons in the UAE, claimed that he met these birds at a price of 1.5 million dirhams ($480 thousand).

Demand creates supply. The temptation to get rich quickly encourages some to illegally acquire and transport banned birds. This illegal but lucrative business is severely condemned by the secretariat of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

Smuggling, according to the Russian expert, is a real scourge for falcons. After all, during transportation, smugglers put these beautiful birds to sleep, swaddle them and stack them in bags. Their body temperature is high, each bird is like a hot water bottle. The bag turns into a stove, so about 50% of birds die from overheating during illegal transportation.


Who would have thought back in the mid-twentieth century that the traditional predilection of proud Arabian Arabs would have to be combined with international laws?!

The UAE has joined SITEC. This Convention was the basis for the federal law of 2002 on the protection of endangered bird species. If a hunter violates the provisions of this law regarding obtaining licenses and necessary certificates for hunting birds, he faces a fine or even a prison sentence.

In 2004, I visited an International Exhibition dedicated to hunting and horse riding, which is held in the Emirates every two years. Competitors - various falcon breeding companies, including those from Europe, competed in attracting potential customers.

The aviaries and bird cages were crowded with visitors: mostly men in long, snow-white dishdash shirts and checkered Bedouin headscarves. Nearby, samples of state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, including X-ray machines for treating birds, glittered with nickel.

The open area was decorated with all-terrain vehicles of the latest brands equipped for traveling in the desert, trailers-trailers stuffed with all sorts of devices for comfort.

Traditionally, the most beautiful falcon was chosen at the exhibition. The jury evaluated it according to the following indicators: size, color, shape of the beak (preferably short), neck (the longer the better).

The winners of another competition were also named:for the best poem dedicated to the falcon and falconry. Poets competed in three genres: describing the beauty and flying qualities of a falcon, praising the prowess of falconers, and elegies about the grief of a hunter who lost his beloved bird.

Here I bought a little blue book in Arabic, "Falconer's Guide", with a sample passport - a certificate of a hunting bird, introduced by the Emirati authorities to protect birds. It contains information about the falcon, its origin, and owners.

Every bird imported from abroad or purchased domestically, I was told at the exhibition, must be registered with the SITES Bureau in the Emirates. To do this, you should apply to one of the falcon hospitals, where the bird will be examined and an electronic chip with a number will be implanted, and then a passport will be issued for a period of three years. Only with such a passport, the owner can take the bird out of the country.

According to media reports, there are about 4 thousand people in the Emirates. falcons registered under international rules. Falcons confiscated from smugglers are first sent to a hospital for rehabilitation, and then released into the wild.

Every year, according to the director of the Abu Dhabi Hospital for falcons, several dozen birds are released after their rehabilitation, including those that generous owners give to doctors after purchasing new ones.

Sometimes birds are released into the wild in the regions from which they came.: Central Asia, Pakistan. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan also established such a program and was the first to transfer his own birds to return to their natural habitat.


The Internet, which has imperiously and actively invaded the lives of Emiratis, has significantly expanded the circle and boundaries of communication and lovers of falconry.

Today, the sites contain an eventful chronicle of falconers ' life, information about competitions in this sport. For example, in the desert of the principality of Dubai, the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum championship is held with the first prize-an all-terrain vehicle "land Rover". In 2009, 190 falconers took part in it.

Websites are full of falconers ' stories about their pets, vivid descriptions of their qualities and virtues, and poems dedicated to birds. Like motorists, owners of falcons display photo and video frames with their pets, place ads for the sale or purchase of birds. They ask for help in finding a missing feathered bird, etc.

Many pages are devoted to the authors ' impressions of their travels, hikes and walks in the desert. For a long time, desert landscapes under a bright sky, where peace reigned, set up local Bedouins for peace of mind and contemplation.

And today, many residents of megacities often go to the desert to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, relieve nervous tension and relax, spend time in a heartfelt conversation with their friends, breathe un-gassed air.

On these expanses, the hunting of local residents with a falcon was born. He has been a friend and companion of man in Arabia for dozens of generations since ancient times. It is not for nothing that today the falcon is depicted in the coat of arms of the UAE, and its wings and tail represent the seven principalities that make up the country.


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Yu. N. ZININ, FALCON AND FALCONRY: EMIRATI MOTIFS // Astana: Digital Library of Kazakhstan (BIBLIO.KZ). Updated: 20.08.2023. URL: (date of access: 25.04.2024).

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