Briton's falconry ambitions soar as falcon ‘English' takes flight
Fakhr Al Ajyal Championship for Falconry - Telwah
- 16-year-old Emirati Khalifa Al Falasi competes in the General Public category
DUBAI, 7th February 2018: Dubai-based British falconer Harry Ian Garland has embraced the Emirati heritage sport of falconry with the same passion and pride as people in the Gulf after participating in the sixth edition of the Fakhr Al Ajyal (Pride of the Generation) Championship for Falconry Telwah organized and supervised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) at the dedicated Fazza Falconry Championship site in Ruwayyah area off Emirates Road (exit 55) in Dubai on Tuesday 6th February.
The 22-year-old from Birmingham, England acquired celebrity status back home in the United Kingdom and across Europe after making an impressive debut in the Fazza Championship for Falconry Telwah last month with a falcon named ‘English’.
Harry’s young male jeer peregrine clocked 18.302 seconds in the keenly contested Jeer Tabaa Farkh Car event in the General Public category which earned him 14th position out of 65 contestants on the sixth day of the Fakhr Al Ajyal Championship for Falconry Telwah, the second and most prestigious falconry championship will continue until 15th February.
Among the participants in the General Public category was a 16-year-old Emirati Khalifa Al Falasi who has formed his own team of falconers supported by his family.
“Falconry is a family tradition and used to accompany my father and uncles for hunting. I wanted to continue this tradition and started training falcons two years ago. I did not want to compete in the Juniors category. With the help of my family I formed a team of falconers and entered for the Fakhr Al Ajyal Championship for Falconry Telwah. I hope to succeed in my efforts some day in future,” he said.
For Briton Harry every race is a learning process after participating in the third race of his fledgling career.
“This race I had no expectations. My preparation was not good. ‘English’ is just one year old. The timing is okay. It’s very fat at the moment weighing 920 grams. It’s all a learning process. I just wanted to enjoy the experience,” said Harry expressing his gratitude to Dubai Falcon Center of Hussain Nasser Lootah.
“He was kind enough to gift me the falcon at the start of season,” said Harry who hails from a falcon breeding family in England.
His interest and ambitions in falconry has soared after he moved to Dubai two years ago.
“It’s very interesting. Back when I was at home, I was just hunting with falcons and working with my father (Ian Garland). After Hussain (Nasser Lootah) gave me the chance to work in Dubai to watch him hunting and racing, I became very interested. I was observing and learning from him the techniques of training. He gave me the chance to compete myself,” said Harry who played rugby at high school and indulged in cycling and swimming.
However, falconry takes pride of place in his life now and aims to manage a falcon breeding project in the UAE or elsewhere. His younger brother Ollie, 20, has just moved to Saudi Arabia to manage a falconry project in Abha.
“I am looking to be a falcon breeder which I am training to be at the moment with Dubai Falcon Center. It’s nice to compete with Emirati guys and learn about their culture and heritage,” said Harry who is comfortable wearing the traditional Emirati dress.
“I find falcon hunting to be more of a heritage and falcon racing more of a sport. It’s becoming more competitive year on year which is nice and good for the sport or heritage,” said Harry who is enjoying star status back home after his exploits.
“There is a lot of support actually. Falcon breeders and friends have come (to Dubai) and they are starting to watch the races now to see my performance which is very nice. At home (UK) everyone is really proud and enjoys it. Most people back home just breed the falcons. Here (UAE) we breed falcons and fly them if you are lucky enough,” he said.
Giles Grey who travelled from England just to see his friend Harry Garland participate was amazed by the Fakhr Al Ajyal Championship for Falconry Telwah.
“It is a big competition. It is more a passion not more of a hobby, they love it,” said Giles who has taken a fancy to falconry after looking after the chicks in Harry’s farm in Birmingham for the past one year.
“I just came to see the culture of the UAE. Harry is a good friend of mine. He said come and see me. It is nice to see. Everybody is very respectful,” said Giles on his first visit to Dubai.
“It’s very fascinating. It is good fun. I’m not very knowledgeable on how they train and select good ones but it’s very interesting. I enjoy looking after and raising them,” he said of his falconry experience.
Following is the tournament schedule for the Fakhr Al Ajyal (Pride of the Generation) Championship for Falconry Telwah:
Thursday 8th February (Qarmoosha): Farkh – Trophy; Farkh – Car; Farkh – Cash; Jernas – Trophy; Jernas - Car (General)
Friday 9th February: RC Airplane Qualification (Sheikhs)
Saturday 10th February: Tabaa Wahish Car and Cash (Juniors); Jeer Tabaa Car and Cash (Juniors)
Sunday 11th February: RC Airplane Qualification (General)
Monday 12th February: (Hurr Wahish): Farkh – Car; Farkh – Cash; Jernas - Car (Local); Farkh – Car; Jernas - Car (GCC)
Tuesday 13th February (Shaheen Wahish): Farkh – Trophy; Farkh – Cash; Jernas - Car (Local); Farkh – Car; Jernas - Car (GCC)
Wednesday 14th February: RC Airplane Finals (Sheikhs and General)
Thursday 15th February: ‘Al Noukhba’ Super Final (Sheikhs) Farkh and Jernas - Car; Super Final (General) Farkh and Jernas - Car
The official sponsors of Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center are: Al Tayer Motors Land Rover, Dubai Airports, AW Rostamani (Arabian Automobiles), Global Village and Al Oula radio station.
This year’s Championship promises to be even more exciting with the format having been changed adding to the thrill and suspense of the competition. Every event will be a virtual final since qualification rounds have been done away with except in the RC (Remote Controlled) Airplane category. As a result there will multiple winners on each day of the competition.
The ancient art of taking wild quarry with a trained bird of prey, Falconry is a traditional and highly valued custom in the UAE, reflecting the Bedouin love of this sport. During races, the falcons are timed over a distance of 400 meters, with the best clocking around 20 seconds. They are lured using bait of pigeon wings.
It will be the turn of greyhound dog breeders and owners when the Saluki Championship for the General Public will be held on February 20th, 2018, while the second Saluki Championship for Elite categories will be held on February 25th, 2018 at Al Marmoum racecourse in Dubai.
The Saktoun Rifle Shooting training will be held from March 11th, 2018 to March 13th, in the Dubai Police Shooting Range in the Ruwayyah area, with the aim of preparing and training all age groups for the Fazza Open Championship for Shooting - Saktoun Rifle where the main tournament will take place from 14th to 17th March 2018.
The Fazza Championship for Shooting - Saktoun for locals will be held on March 18th, 2018 and will continue until March 21st.
Free divers will take to the pool in the penultimate event of the Fazza Championship season.
The Fazza Championship for Freediving will be held from March 22nd, 2018 until March 24th at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Sports Complex in Ruwayyah. The Fazza Championship for Freediving is preceded by the annual training programs organized by the Center to improve the performance of the free divers, which will take place from March 19th 2018 to March 21st at the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Sports Complex.
The season finale will be when the knights wielding Youlah weapons arrive on the stage in the conclusion of the Fazza Heritage Championships for 2017-18 at the Al Meydan Fort in Global Village. The final episode of the 18th edition of the AED 1 million Fazza Championship for Youlah is scheduled for March 18th, 2018 when the winner of the Fazza Youlah Championship Cup is declared after voting by the fans.
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