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Anthropology research paper topics

Anthropology research paper topics

Falconry in UAE

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Falconry in UAE

Student’s Name

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Falconry in UAE

The Falcon is the national bird in the UAE, symbolizing force and courage. As such, young boys growing up in the Arab tradition and culture recognize the significance of falconry. This paper examines the practice of falconry among male Emirati teenagers in Al Ruwayyah. The primary question raised is why teenage Emirati males practice falconry in their free time in Al Ruwayyeh. Key insights and conclusions have been drawn based on the information gathered through an interview conducted with a 17years old boy, Ahmed. The first sections explain falconry and why teenage Emirati males enjoy it while the second one highlights its connection to the place, culture, and geography in the UAE. The final sections discuss how young boys look up to HH Shaikh Hamdan, the crown prince of Dubai.

Falconry involves the use of a trained bird of prey to hunt wild animals in their natural state and habitat. Emirati teenagers in UAE hunt and train falcon birds, which are later used in hunting smaller prey (Wakefield, 2012). As such, falconry is an integral part of the UAE culture. Initially, the activity was practiced for survival reasons, such as supplementing one’s diet. However, it has since evolved into a mainstream hobby widely practiced all over the UAE. The two main species used in falconry in the region include the Peregrine and the Saqr falcons, which are imported from other Middle Eastern countries. The Saqr is the most popularly used hunting bird in Al Ruwayyah because it is well suited for desert hawking. Koch (2015) notes that the female Saqr, which is commonly referred to as Al Hurr, is larger and more powerful; hence, it is more preferred for hunting than its male counterpart, the Garmoush. While the use of trained birds to hunt for prey is commonly conducted by teenage boys in Al Ruwayyah, the practice continues all the way to their adulthood.

Ahmed is currently 17 years and has practised falconry for the last ten years. As is the case with most young boys in the region, he started the practice when he was only seven years old. Male Emirati teenagers are encouraged to engage in the hobby because it inspires both courage and patience (Seddon & Launay, 2008). In Al Ruwayyah, the falconry is often introduced to young boys by a trainer, locally referred to as the Saqqar. Part of the fascination with falconry among young boys living in Al Ruwayyah is inspired by the complex and obscure nature in which falcons are trained. For example, the majority of books and advice by experienced Saqqars are still regarded as rudimentary at best (Krawietz, 2014). Moreover, key details about falconry vary between individual raptor birds and ­species as well as the place and geography. Krawietz (2014) adds that young boys in the UAE are more likely to be fascinated by falconry because keeping and training raptor birds is not as strictly and tightly regulated in the region as it is in other parts of the world. As such, falconry is a deep-rooted tradition and culture that is ingrained among young boys in the UAE.

The ability to train and tame a predator to obey its master is a mystery that adds to the overall fascination held by young boys towards falconry. Krawietz (2014) notes that teenage Emirati males enjoy falconry as a hobby because it is not only considered a sport, but also an important aspect of the region’s cultural heritage. Moreover, falconry is appreciated by young boys as a heritage sport. Ahmed confirms that the practice has been passed down from one generation to another and everyone in his family has enjoyed it. As such, a falconer is held in high regard as a profession. Moreover, despite the recreational nature of falconry, the practice has real life practical applications. For example, professional falconers are often hired occasionally to help clear birds at the airport. Such economic benefits not only make falconry an attractive hobby, but also a promising career among young boys in the UAE.

Some of the economic advantages associated with falconry involves the income earned from buying and training the birds. These benefits are particularly enjoyed by the residents of Al Ruwayyah, which in turn encourages the young teenage boys to actively engage in falconry. Ahmed explains that it costs approximately 5 to 10 thousand dirhams to buy and train a single falcon. The economic benefits attached to falconry plays a central role in helping parents make a conscious decision towards allowing their sons to engage in the hobby. For example, while falconry starts as a hobby among teenage boys, it quickly becomes a source of income once the falcons are well trained. Moreover, Al Ruwayyah occasionally holds contests whereby falcons compete and ­their owners awarded monetary prizes. Ahmed notes that his falcon has participated twice in national competitions where it won him a car in his first win and 200 thousand dirhams’ in cash in his second one. Consequently, such prizes are essential in encouraging teenage Emirati males to enjoy falconry as a hobby.

Additional benefits that make falconry an enjoyable hobby among young boys in the UAE include ­communing with nature and the fact that the prey has good odds of escaping.  According to Wakefield (2012), the excitement of hunting with equal odds of the prey escaping or being caught heightens the experience of falconry. Consequently, teenagers find falconry a great pass time hobby in which they have fun watching their birds being trained as well as in action. During hunting, the prey usually has a fair chance of escaping, hence intensifying the excitement of the teenagers. Pest control is expensive to farmers and it adds to their hefty operating expenses. In Al Ruwayyah, teenagers who own predator birds are occasionally asked to bring their birds in the fields to help control these pests. Such receptibilities helps reinforce the significance of falconry among young teenage boys, thereby making the activity even more enjoyable.

The people of Al Ruwayyah are connected to the UAE culture through falconry.  This association is demonstrated by how passionate young boys are about their falcons. For example, the predator birds are categorized and ranked based on their size, nature, intelligence, speed and strength. The practice is often encouraged by the crown prince of Dubai, His Highness Shaikh Hamdan, who also enjoys the sport. The prince has played an essential role in teaching young Emirati teenage boys about the importance of falconry as a heritage sport. He is quoted saying that the training that goes into the birds taught him key life principles and values, such as patience, discipline, and the benefits of delayed rewards (Eastham, Cottage, Nicholls, & Fox, 2000). As such, the prince has been a major influence among young boys in the region in regards to engaging in falconry. His influence has been instrumental in encouraging people to view falconry as a key tool for teaching personal growth and an understanding ­and respect for their fragile eco-system.

The prince further adds that falconry teaches people how to overcome their opponents through intelligence while reflecting on the ability of man in taming wild animals. As such, young boys are likely to learn from the Prince’s leadership in customs and culture to protect the popularity of the heritage sport. Also, the Prince has adopted several initiatives, such as the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme to protect falcons and take back some of the endangered species to their natural environment (Cunningham & Aspinall, 2001). As such, young boys who look up to him are encouraged to protect their birds and allow them to reproduce in a manner that supports the regions eco-system. Most of the current programmes aimed at restoring the natural habitats of the birds focus on young people. As such, the Prince often keeps in touch with different youth organizations whereby he is able to influence and encourage them on how to practice the sport in a responsible manner.

The discussions developed shows that Falconry is a major heritage sport in the UAE, and the bird symbolizes force and courage­ in the region. As such, young boys growing up in the Arab tradition and culture actively engage in falconry not only as a hobby, but also as a source of income. Finally, young Emirati teenage boys, including Ahmed, look up to the prince of Dubai who enjoys the hobby. As such, the Prince has become a source of inspiration and a role model in not only Al Ruwayyah but all over the EAU. 

References

Cunningham, P. L., & Aspinall, S. (2001). The diet of Little Owl Athene noctua in the UAE, with notes on Barn Owl Tyto alba, and Desert Eagle Owl Bubo (b.) ascalaphus. Tribulus11(2), 13-17.

Eastham, C. P., Cottage, M. H., Nicholls, M. K., & Fox, N. C. (2000). Post-mortem shrinkage in large falcons. Falco, 9.

Koch, N. (2015). G ulf Nationalism and the Geopolitics of Constructing Falconry as a ‘Heritage Sport’. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism15(3), 522-539.

Krawietz, B. (2014). Falconry as a Cultural Icon of the Arab Gulf Region. Under Construction: Logics of Urbanism in the Gulf Region, 131-46.

Seddon, P. J., & Launay, F. (2008). Arab Falconry: changes, challenges and conservation opportunities of an ancient art. Tourism and the consumption of wildlife: hunting, shooting and sports fishing. Routledge, London, 196-210.

Wakefield, S. (2012). Falconry as heritage in the United Arab Emirates. World Archaeology44(2), 280-290.

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