Posted on February 04, 2011

Peregrine falcons are flying high and mighty over the desert, as the 2nd annual Qatar Falcon Festival kicks off in the Sealine area.

Held under the patronage of HE Joan bin Hamad Al Thani, the festival brings together falcon owners and breeders from all over the GCC region, celebrating the art of falconry as one of Qatar's most unique and popular traditions.

The large birds of prey can fly at a speed of more than 200 miles per hour, creating clouds of sand as they hit their targets. The tradition of falconry dates back thousands of years, as nomadic Bedouins used it as a hunting tool in the harsh desert.

"The event represents our heritage," said one of the participants, Majid Al Badr.

Participants have been divided into eight groups to compete in various categories of the festival, including what are called “Daao Hoopoe” and “ Solouqi Hoopoe."

The winners of each group stage will clear their way into the final round scheduled for February 5.