First Woman Competes at Middle East’s Top Falconry Show.

By Simdi Gloria:-

Falconry is an important part of the desert heritage of Arabs of Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries.

Athari Alkhaldi stands out as the first woman to qualify and participate in the event.

“With my participation … I proved I am here, that women can join this field, that it’s not only restricted to men,” she said, alongside her falcon Ma’aned.

The Abdulaziz Falconry Festival is a two weeks festival that gathers more than 4,000 falcons from the Gulf and further afield.

The festival honored Alkhaldi’s presence with an award for the first female to make a qualifying competition flight with her bird.

Alkhaldi had first participated last year, but her bird refused to take flight. Determined, she returned this year and her bird successfully flew.

“Dealing with the birds, it is not easy … they are sensitive and need special treatment,” she said, adding that it requires patience and persistence.

“Falconry has been a well-known heritage since ancient times. We take pride in it,” she said.

The festival is government-backed and is in its third year. It has 22.7 million Saudi riyals ($6 million) in prize money to give out during beauty and flying contests.

Alkhaldi said her passion for falcons first began 10 years ago and she has been developing her skills with hunting birds ever since.

Waleed Al-Taweel, the festival spokesperson said, “Honoring (Alkhaldi) is a continuation of the Kingdom’s efforts to empower women in all areas,” he said of the participation award given to her.

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