Falcons are deeply revered in Qatari society, with the sport of falconry being a well-respected tradition in the Gulf.
It’s been two days of pigeons outperforming falcons at the falcons’ very own annual festival, Marmi 2023, successfully evading their sharp claws and returning safely to their coops.
During the Haddad Al Tahadi competitions’ afternoon session, only two falcons were able to hunt their prey. Since the beginning of the festival, 58 falcons have achieved qualification for the higher round of this competition.
One Zajil pigeon (Homer pigeon) is released to fly away as the competition’s first target. If the falcon can catch up with it or surround it in one spot, it is declared the winner.
The winning falcon could earn its owner as much as QAR 100,000 in prize money.
According to Shawi Al-Kaabi, deputy head of Haddad Al Tahadi, the homing pigeons had the upper hand on Wednesday because it was obvious that the majority of the falcons were not fully equipped for the hunt, reported Gulf News.
Some claimed that pigeons had an advantage over falcons because of the strong winds, but Al-Kaabi emphasised that both the pigeons and the falcons are equally affected by the strong winds, demonstrating the pigeons’ superior skills.
This year’s edition of the Qatar International Falcons and Hunting Festival (Marmi 2023) started on 1 January 2023 and will last until 28 January 2023.
There are two tournaments each day, at 8 am and 11 am.
Since the falconers were added to the world heritage list in 2011, the Al Gannas Association has held important events, including Marmi.
Marmi was made an annual event under the patronage of Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al-Thani in order to preserve the folkloric and sentimental values of this sport passed down from the Qatari ancestors.
In 2008, Al Gannas was established to promote the ancient Arabic sport of hunting. It coordinates activities and offers assistance to represent Arab hunters in national and regional competitions. The association supports field research and studies and offers the best hunting facilities and equipment.
The month-long event includes falcon competitions for adult and younger falcons, and features beautiful birds from all around the world.
It attracts dozens of contestants across the Gulf region annually to take part in ‘unusual’ speed and prey hunting competitions to bag a big cash prize, as well as the prestigious title.
This year, the Qatar International Falcons and Hunting Festival has five different Visual Acuity, including Adult Saker; Pigeon Chasing: Juvenile Peregrine; Al Da’u; Promising Falconer and Young Falconer; Saluki Racing, Hadad Al Tahaddi, and Al Mazzain.