International falcon breeders flock to Riyadh for major exhibition

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An annual falcon exhibition is being held in Mulham, north of Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh, allowing breeders to display their finest specimens of the revered bird of prey.

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The fourth International Saudi Falcons and Hunting Exhibition was organized by the Saudi Falcons Club, which invited sellers and enthusiasts from 17 different countries including the US, Germany, and Spain, to participate in a range of activities.

Falcons have been auctioned off for eye-watering sums, with one bird fetching upwards of $10,000 (41 thousand riyals) on the first day of auctions, the club said in a statement.

The event, which kicked off on Thursday and will run for ten days, also hosts a variety of other attractions including falcon-themed art exhibitions, conservation talks, and interactive games to teach children about falcon rearing.

There have also been displays of hunting weaponry, and a pavilion of modified off-road cars used for long hunting trips.

Foreign dignitaries including Japanese ambassador Fumio Iwai and Korean ambassador to the Kingdom Park Joon-yong visited the exhibition, getting a taste of an important aspect of Saudi Arabia's rich cultural heritage.

The aerial predators are a quintessential part of the Kingdom’s culture, having been used for hunting by nomadic Bedouins for thousands of years.

Falcons are seen as a status symbol for some Saudis, and in September of 2021 a new record was set when a US white Gyrfalcon was sold for $466,667 (1.75 million Saudi riyals) at the Saudi Falcon Club event.

Last year’s event attracted 500,000 visitors over ten days, the organizers said. This year, 550,000 are expected to attend.

General admission is $6.6 (25 riyals), while entry to the arms display will cost $20 (75 riyals), and VIP tickets are going for $400 (1,500 riyals).

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