Falconry is an integral part of the heritage and culture of Qatar and other countries in the region, with falconers forming a very special bond with their falcons.
Different expatriate communities living in Qatar have also been showing deep and increasing interest in learning more and more about Qatar's history, culture, and traditions. Falconry is one such practice that the expatriates take keen interest in, while learning more about the old Arab tradition.
Falcon Souq in Doha has been one of the city’s major tourist attractions. Located adjacent to Souq Waqif, it has its own entrance and invites visitors to explore the shops, falcons, and falconry equipment. From October to March, the season of falconry in Qatar, falconers, falcon enthusiasts and tourists visit the market to learn more about different species and the relevant equipment.
Noor Mohammad, Bangladeshi expatriate, has been associated with the sale of falcons for about 40 years now. He has been in Qatar since 2008 and has a shop in the Souq. Previously, he was dealing in falcons in UAE. “I have been into falconry for 40 years. Initially, I used to sell chicken in UAE but got attracted towards the falcons after I saw a compatriot dealing in the birds of prey. We purchase different species of the bird from different countries and sell them in Qatar.”
The falcon dealer is upbeat about the possibility of a rise in business after the resolution of the Gulf crisis.“All the dealers in Qatar will benefit from the development. Now, our falcons can be taken to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and other countries in the region. Falconers from these countries will n ow be visiting Qatar that has the largest market of the fast flying birds.”
Noor, owner of Falcon Sodanaseel Sale Center, has seen a rise in demand for the falcon in GCC countries since he started the business. “I have witnessed a very high demand. Population has increased as well as the interest of the younger generations in falconry over a period of time. Although the prices of different species have gone higher, yet the demand is not scaling down. All those who purchase falcons do not use the bird for hunting. Many keep it as a pet at home, mostly the young Qataris.”
Sharing the names of different falcons, Noor said: “As per the demand for the bird, number one is shaheen, also called jubilee. There are other birds such as garmoosh, jibliya and herr. These are also very popular among Qataris. Most of the birds are from farms in Europe. There are also many wild birds that mostly come from Pakistan, Iran and Russia. The wild birds are high in demand for their speed and dexterity in hunting. The demand for the bird has increased since Qatar has started different falconry competitions. The price of different species range from QR2,000 to 1mn.”
The shopkeeper also sells auxiliary equipment to falconers. “We sell hand gloves, eye-hoods, feet ropes and different training items. The falcon owners also place rings with the name around the feet of the bird. They also install a chip on the bird to trace it and to stop it from getting lost.”