The UAE’s passion for falcons soars high at ADIHEX 2023


ABU DHABI: The deep passion and the robust links between Emiratis and the falcon remain a strong feature of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX), an annual cultural event that has been held over 20 years.

The interaction between them is in fact so rooted in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) founding fathers chose the falcon as the symbol of the nation.

The amazing beauty, fierce strength and proud independence of the falcon symbolize the amazing landscape, the vibrant vigour, and energetic freedom of the country.

UAE emblem

UAE emblem

The official UAE national symbol, designed in 1973 just after the country’s independence, features a golden falcon.

The UAE flag and seven stars that stand for the seven member emirates of the federation can be seen inside a disc attached to the falcon.

A red parchment with the name of the federation (United Arab Emirates) written in Kufic script is in the falcon’s talons.

School children learning about the falcon at ADIHEX 2023

School children learning about the falcon at ADIHEX 2023

The prominent falcon is a clear indication of the high regard that Emirati people and leaders have for the bird and for falconry that hold a special significance in the social, cultural and economic history of their country.

To Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT) Abu Dhabi Chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, the importance of cultural traditions in molding the Emirati cultural identity cannot be overstated.

“They tether us to our past, connect us to the memories of our forefathers, and allow us to practice our living heritage and enhance our sense of unity and belonging,” he said.


Falconry, a potent symbol of a genuine hunting heritage, was traditionally used in the region by desert-dwelling Bedouins as an important form of hunting in a resource-scarce land.

Over time, it has acquired more values and has evolved into a social and recreational practice and an opportunity for closer connection with nature.

In the UAE, special attention is now accorded to safeguarding falcons, quarry and habitats, modern methods of breeding, training and caring for birds, strengthening the bonds between the falconers and the bird and establishing falcon hospitals, breeding centers, conservation agencies and traditional equipment makers.


Today and across the UAE, falconry is celebrated on multiple local, regional and national occasions. It is also omnipresent in literature and music and falcons are given rich tribute in poems, songs and stories.

Falconry was added to the lists of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on November 16, 2010.

This was the culmination of over six years work by 11 nations, led by the United Arab Emirates and including Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Korea, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Mongolia, Morocco and Spain.

In 2021, the UAE led the efforts of 24 countries from around the globe to extend the heritage practice of falconry inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Today, it is inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Czechia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Syria, and the UAE.

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