Friday, January 10, 2014

Falcon and Hunting Festival

Today I went down to the 5th Annual Falcon and Hunting Festival near Sealine Beach, which is being held throughout January. For those of you interested in going . . .

Where it is exactly?

It is not quite at Sealine resort but a few kilometers before it. Just after the overpass in Messiead that gets you on Sealine Road there is a roundabout that leads to the Endurance Course (for horse training). You need to turn right on that roundabout and follow the flags that line the road to the Festival.

What, it doesn't look like a road? Yep. This means . . .

You need a 4x4 vehicle.

The Festival is nowhere near Sealine Road and you have to go off-road for around 10km. You can't do this unless you have a 4x4. No one told me this so when I arrived with my car I was a little annoyed to find out I wouldn't be able to get to the Festival with it. I parked just past the roundabout where a few other cars were parked and luckily managed to catch a ride with a Qatari who was driving by on his way to the Festival. To get back I had to hitchhike and managed to get a ride with some other Qataris to my car.

Lots of people were here already.

Here’s pictures of the camp, lots of seating either in the grandstand or majlis-style seating outside the grandstand

As well as a restaurant

Shops where you can buy gear for falconry as well as camping equipment

A small playground for little kids

And even a tent where they serve some traditional food like harees (I got some food here and they didn't even charge me for it.)

Even though there was plenty of seating at the grandstand a lot of Qataris parked out by the edge of the fence to be closer to the falconry.

The falcons and pigeons are released a few hundred meters away from the grandstand, which can sometimes make it difficult to spot what is going on. Not a problem, there were huge TV screens set up so if you couldn't see the birds you could watch them on the screen. As for food you can also bring your own and have a picnic, I saw some people doing that.

So your time is spent sitting around watching the falconry.

There was bottled water at each of the “mini-majlises” and occasionally someone would came around with either tea our Arabic coffee that you could have. A new competitor was up every 10 minutes or so. They must've been fast pigeons or inexperienced falcons today as none of the falcons I saw managed to catch the pigeon in the allotted time.

It was a relaxing day but given none of the falcons caught the pigeon it wasn’t too exciting. I hope to return later in the month when they're doing the hunting with Salukis, that might be interesting to see as well.

But I’ll need to borrow a 4x4.


Elizabeth said...

Thank you for this post - it's the most information I can find in English on the falcon festival! I really appreciate your blog and enjoy reading your posts. Do you think the falcon festival would be something a group of expats, including women, would be welcome at?

Glen McKay said...

Hi Elizabeth. Ex-pats are no problem, I saw some there and things like the "Traditional Food" tent were clearly geared to visitors being able to try Qatari food.

I didn't see any Qatari ladies but there were ex-pat ladies and families, no problem. One person with a falcon was even chatting with a family and letting them take pictures with his falcon.

If it's sunny bring sunscreen and hats, the majlis-style seating is not in shade.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you Glen! We're looking forward to checking it out this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Glen, that post was excellent. I attended the festival on Jan. 18. Alas, most of the photos I took using my Nokia were junk. Do you mind if I attach 3 of your photos to the letter I will send to the people of Saskatchewan who correspond with me? Thanks, David

Glen McKay said...

Hi David. No problem, feel free to use the photos.

Chiya said...

wow loved the way you have helped with the details , any details for this year when its starting ? any fee ? are 4 years old and less allowed ?

Glen McKay said...

Hi Chiya. Actually I haven't seen any details yet, which is strange. I'll ask some Qataris and see if they know.

I did find a video about it but it's from August:

Also the 2014 one had no entrance fee and it was okay to bring little kids.

Glen McKay said...

Found it:

Chiya said...

Just an update, went in today afternoon and that's not yet started, they were just setting the premises :) start date , when asked to the security, they weren't sure .

Glen McKay said...

The newspapers are now reporting that the 2015 festival starts now (Jan 5, 2015) and runs until the end of January.