Abu Dhabi’s Al Marzoom reserve, a favourite destination for falconry lovers

Sunday 27/11/2016
Falconers follow a hunting falcon at Al Marzoom Hunting Reserve, on February 1st, 2016. (AFP)

Abu Dhabi - Al Marzoom Hunting Re­serve, the first of its kind in the world, provides a unique opportunity for the lovers of falconry to practise traditional hunting while enjoying an exceptional heritage experience. The protected area provides a safe environment for falconers and all those interested in falconry-related activities.
Situated in Al Gharbia (The Western Region) in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Al Marzoom recently opened its doors to receive the first batch of visitors and falconers in the second hunting season, which runs from November to mid-Feb­ruary.
Obaid Khalfan Al Mazrouei, di­rector of heritage competitions at the Cultural Programmes and Her­itage Festivals Committee of Abu Dhabi, said more than 2,500 fal­coners and visitors were expected to visit the reserve. He also said about 500 hunting trips would be organised by the Department of Al Marzoom Hunting Reserve.
In its first season, Al Marzoom at­tracted a large number of falconers as well as Arab and foreign tourists in addition to representatives of in­ternational, Arab and local media.
“In the light of the great success that has been achieved throughout the previous season, we go on with the organisation of this unique ini­tiative,” Al Mazrouei said.
The reserve is located 100-120km from the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi, (about one hour by car) and is com­pletely delimited by a fence. The hunting area is surrounded by a vast natural reserve, where several high-level sites can be found and used to observe the larger landscape.
During the current season, Al Marzoom Hunting Reserve is planning to launch a number of spe­cialised pro­grammes to train falconers and raise awareness of the significance of safeguarding her­itage. Students from a number of Emirati schools will be taught the principles of sustainable hunt­ing, al sinaa (the daily etiquette in the UAE), the preparation of Arab coffee, camel riding and all that is related to the preservation of au­thentic traditions.
At Al Marzoom, visitors are ac­cepted as part of hunting teams, with each team limited to no more than five members along with a professional hunter.
“We hope for our visitors to go through a unique heritage experi­ence as this second season will be characterised by the organisation of diverse traditional activities and exciting surprises. There will be an opportunity to practise falconry and learn its skills without having to travel abroad,” said Ahmed bin Hiaa al-Mansouri, director of the hunting reserve.
“Al Marzoom focuses on falconry in the first place and is not provid­ing any other form of wildlife tour­ism for the time being,” he added.
Al Mansouri noted that accom­modation would be limited to traditional camps so as to respect the main objective of the project, which focuses on protecting the environment. He also stressed that only the practice of traditional hunting would be allowed, without the use of any weapons of any kind.
Al Marzoom, which is character­ised by an exclusive focus on fal­conry and desert physiognomy, is internationally recognised as being a unique destination. The reserve sprawls over 923 sq. km and aims to provide a unique opportunity of traditional hunting.
The natural reserve works within the framework of environmental sustainability to protect and pre­serve endangered species from the risk of extinction. It also inspires to defend the animal wealth and the vegetative life of actual or possible economic values. While providing an opportunity for scientists and re­searchers to conduct field studies, Al Marzoom protected area aims to raise awareness about the protec­tion of environment among visi­tors with its various activities.
The natural reserve is a living museum for the protection of au­thenticity and cultural identity. It offers an opportunity to learn about the local heritage through highlighting various customs and traditions that are related to hunt­ing, cuisine, leisure and other ac­tivities.
As a project, Al Marzoom is de­signed as a unique hub for the at­traction of tourists and visitors who are eager to enjoy genuine comfort in a contemporary way.
At Al Marzoom, falconers can hunt rabbits, as well as the hou­bara bustard, which is provided by a number of recognised breeding centres. It should be noted that the practice of falconry is organised, in accordance with a strict legal framework.