Birds of a feather flock collectively is a typical phrase the world over. And Qatar is unquestionably no exception even within the desert.
Qatar has turn out to be a focus for soccer since profitable the precise to host the World Cup. However one other sport is flying excessive within the historic centre of the capital, Doha, as near over 1,000,000 international followers flock to the tiny emirate: Falconry.
On the bustling Souq Waqif, a 100-year-old labyrinth market in Doha, retailers promoting spices and souvenirs give strategy to shops, and even a state-of-the-art hospital, crammed with the famed birds which have lengthy impressed ardour amongst Bedouin tribes.
For hundreds of years, Arabs throughout the area have used falcons for searching and recited poems extolling their virtues.
At present, the birds of prey function potent reminders of Qatari tradition and custom even because the skyscraper-studded metropolis races to prepared itself for the world’s greatest sporting occasion.
BREED THE BIRDS
“After all, soccer is the mom of sports activities. However alongside soccer there are different, crucial sports activities that we would like foreigners to know about Qatar,” Khalid al-Kaja, a 45-year-old falconer initially from the Syrian countryside who moved to Doha together with his household over 20 years in the past to breed the chicken, advised the Arab media.
“The best way that we cope with falcons says a lot about our relationship with the desert, with nature. It brings us again to the fundamentals of life.”
Excited followers from around the globe particularly trickled into Souq Waqif on Saturday, a day earlier than the World Cup opening ceremony, braving Doha’s piercing autumn solar to wander by means of the stalls of fragrance and incense and examine the inventory of squawking parrots and lovebirds.
In a darkish alley, al-Kaja expressed hope that the highlight of the World Cup would enhance international appreciation for the traditional pastime to which he has devoted his life. Traces of falcons, tethered to perches, waited to be appraised that Saturday. For Qatari prospects, the raptors function beloved pets, standing symbols – and ferocious hunters.
“Qatar has this new infrastructure, the buildings, every little thing,” al-Kaja stated, referring to the US$200bil that the energy-rich nation has poured into the soccer event, increase huge air-conditioned stadiums, swanky accommodations and even a metro system to whisk followers across the metropolis. Simply north of the historic Souq Waqif, the skyscrapers of West Bay glittered.
“However we don’t overlook the previous. Falconry is a ardour that brings the entire area collectively,” al-Kaja stated.
Lately the recognition of falconry has soared, he added, as Qatari residents and long-time Arab residents see rising worth in cultural holdovers from a time earlier than the emirate was even a rustic, not to mention a hub of pure gasoline wealth and worldwide enterprise.
Falcon golf equipment, magnificence contests and races have sprouted up within the desert of Qatar and throughout the Arabian Peninsula, inflicting falcon costs to surge, merchants say. The best in al-Kaja’s retailer fetch as a lot as 1 million Qatari riyals (US$274,680), he stated.
Nowhere is the love of falcons extra evident than Doha’s close by Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital – a whole medical facility dedicated to the skilled therapy and care of the birds.
Right here, surgeons mend damaged falcon bones, file their excessively lengthy nails and conduct full-body chicken X-rays.
However even among the many falcon-crazed, pleasure concerning the World Cup – the primary ever within the Arab world – looms massive. One Qatari falconer, Masnad Ali Al Mohannadi, advertises his beloved chicken, named Neyar, as a psychic able to selecting World Cup match winners!
What a birdy revelation, maybe.
Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports activities journalist who can be a professional worldwide coach and worldwide referee teacher
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