Flying Falcon

FALCONRY: the sport of the skies


Falconry, a hunting practice based on the use of falcons or other birds to capture prey, acquires a high symbolic value in the United Arab Emirates. Falconry has allowed the ancient inhabitants of this land to prosper, but above all to acquire the values still represented by this practice today. Courage, perseverance, steadfastness and, above all, the virtue of patience are essential values. In these countries falcons is not only used for the ancient art of hunting, but also for competitions of dexterity and speed. These practices redefine the concept, paraphrasing falconry in: “sport of the skies”. According to Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the art of falconry touches even deeper chords: “Falconry allows children to enjoy the spell of the wilderness, instilling in them the virtues of patience and fortitude, willpower and companionship, values that are just as important today as they have been for generations.”


Falconry, and before that the relationship between man and falcon, has ancestral origins. Little is known about the place and the exact moment in which this was born, it is thought to be more than 4000 years old. What is certain is that it has embraced different cultures and populations over time. Spread from east to west, it has evolved hand in hand with the development of society. A very important and recognized practice in the United Arab Emirates, it is also a symbol for the Egyptians. The eye of Horus is in fact a very important esoteric symbol linked to prosperity and sovereignty which undoubtedly recalled that of the peregrine falcon. For the Greeks, the falcon was the messenger of Apollo. According to the Nordic peoples, the goddess Freya appeared wherever she wanted thanks to her cloak of falcon feathers. For all cultures, the falcon is an extension of man: his eyes go beyond, where man cannot reach.


The falconry competitions that take place in the skies of Arab countries are divided into three types: Telwah, Baloon and Airplane. Telwah, the queen of this sport: a speed test in which many participants compete. The falcon must cover 400m flying as close as possible to the ground. The falconer sets off the falcon without momentum and upon arrival a “catcher“, with a stick and a rotating rope to which a fake prey is attached, attracts the bird. The best complete the journey in just over 16 seconds with a top speed of over 110kmh. In the Baloon, fake preys are attached to a balloon placed 150 meters high. The falcon must detach them by reaching them in the shortest possible time. Two judges communicate Start and Stop when falcon leave and detach the prey In the last of the three races there is a radio-controlled airplane with a fake prey attached to it. The falcon travels between conical pylons that act as “doors”. Falcon must chase the model aircraft without ever catching it. The routes vary from slalom between several pylons to endurance with distances from 1,200 to 2,000 meters. In this case, the falcon and the “pilot” form a team that must work all together. The timing system chain of a race is mainly made up of Rei2 chronometers, the tested Linkgate radio system, MicroTab and MicroGraph LED displayboards both outdoors on the competition field. Microgate, an italian company, supply most the instruments.
Flying Falcon
Flying Falcon


Among the most honored traditional sports in Arab culture, falconry was recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage of humanity in 2010. Six years later, on 1 December 2016, even in Italy. Hunting with falcons preserves distant traditions. This practice creates a strong bond between man and animal and gives life to a unique language.

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