Falcon Quest: a falcon azba in Al AIn

There is a strong tradition and long history of falcon hunting in the UAE and the larger region. I have held falcons at different times and seen them hunting in old videos... but have never been to a working falcon farm - of course, given my tremendous luck as a professor here - last month our strategy class went to such a farm.

We went to the farm around 8... at the end of a long afternoon of Al Ain adventures (the first INCREDIBLE azba story will follow this one).

I will let the photos do the talking... It really was a strong lesson in the efforts made by individual families to keep tradition alive through modern methods and a strong love of their culture.

Khalid explaining the new methods used to train falcons - in the past it was just releasing birds, then small hot air balloons were used and now small guided aircraft are used to get very high and very precise (so the bird doesn't gt lost!)

Everyone was fascinated and asked loads of questions - many hadn't been to a falcon farm before - we also heard about a new falcon competition sponsored by Sheikh Khalifa (the President of the UAE) to keep the tradition alive and ensure it is passed on to younger generations 
Really cool to have all the falcons behind us

Heading to the long and huge barn that holds the falcons... it is 800 metres long and there are huge fans for cooling and at then end there is an air conditioned "room" for the falcons from colder climates to go to (I may have picked up a few feathers)

A gift of a feather to me :)

Khalid placing the falcon on my hand (yes I have 2 feathers in my hair)

Walid from RAK who had also never been to a falcon azba 
Beautiful bird - she is called heart for the heart shaped markings on her back

A dinner hosted by Abdullah's family and Khalid's family - it was delicious

It was a great way to end an amazing day... keeping tradition alive is as much about the future of the UAE or the "modern" UAE as it is a thing of the past. While hunting is almost exclusively done in other countries - the training and use of these falcons is very much a concern for many families in the country. We were all grateful to get a glimpse of the vision of this azba and the constant stream of innovative methods being used for training... Thank you Khalid (and your family and team of course) for organizing this!

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