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Falconry has been popular for many centuries around the world. Falconry is the use of Falcons to hunt other creatures. It is especially popular in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar in the Middle East. The sport of falconry began over 5,000 years ago in Iran, and spread over the centuries to East and West. The sport was introduced to Qatar through Bedouin tribes who used the birds as a tool for hunting. They discovered that it was much easier to allow the raptors to take down birds migrating across the Arabian Peninsula than it was to shoot them down themselves. This Bedouin method of falconry set the basis for the modern version of the sport practiced in Qatar.
Although, over the centuries, falconry has virtually disappeared from the European continent, the sport lives on in the Middle East. In Qatar, you can still purchase falcons in downtown Doha at falcon souqs or through private dealers. The best raptors can cost thousands of dollars and may even be issued their own Qatari passports to ensue they are not stolen or taken out of the country without the owner’s permission. Due to these elaborate methods of theft prevention, it is not uncommon for you to be seated beside a full-grown falcon when travelling on a Middle Eastern airliner.
In a Qatar Airways economy cabin of a flight between Baku, Azerbaijan, and Doha, Qatar, a group of Qatari men sit on the plane with their treasured birds. The men practise the art of falconry and to escape the heat of Qatar flew for a week to the cooler weathers of Azerbaijan to let the birds fly. The birds cost over US$10,000 each, have micro-chips in their legs so they can find them if they fly off and documents allowing them to travel abroad.
From Airport Guide Traveller: Live animal facility
All pets travelling via Hamad International Airport enjoy the comfort of our dedicated live animal facility while they wait for their connecting or departing flights. This is a secure and climate-controlled environment that is supervised by trained animal handlers.
Collecting your pet
An airline representative in the baggage claim area will deliver your pet to you in person. Please contact the Airline Baggage Service office near Belt 1 (map) if you need any assistance. Once you’ve collected the rest of your checked baggage please proceed to Customs where your pet’s travel documents will be inspected.
Things to remember
Some airlines, such as Qatar Airways, will allow your falcon to travel with you in the passenger cabin (only in Economy Class). Other airlines may accept your falcon for travel but only as checked baggage. Before starting your journey please consult your airline for guidance.
An amazing specimen from Kazakhstan: