Horses, falcons and firearms – it's that time of year again. Today, doors open for the 15th edition of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Adihex).
The five-day show at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre is one of the world's largest hunting expositions and offers insight into the modern desert lifestyle.
Visitors can see the work of 600 exhibitors from 40 countries, including poets, falconers, firearm-makers, artists, camel breeders, conservationists and inventors. More than 100,000 visitors are expected to attend the expanded 43,000-square-metre showroom and arena.
"In Abu Dhabi, we are constantly providing new platforms to draw attention to the Emirati heritage and environment in a unique way that appeals to the larger public from all over the world," says Majed Al Mansouri, chairman of the Adihex organising committee.
"In this context, Adihex has been witnessing spectacular success, being a one-of-a-kind exhibition in the whole region."
This year features 68 new exhibitors and about 126 participating Emirati companies. Visitors can expect the usual line-up of events, like camel auctions, equestrian displays, saluki beauty competitions, a dog show and bird show, as well as unusual inventions and art. Artworks from past years have included a six-metre gem-encrusted dagger by Syrian swordsmith Emad Ghalghay, delicate camel-shaped sweets by Japanese sugar sculptor Takahiro Mizuki, and a motorcycle modelled in the shape of an Arabian stallion owned by an Ajman royal.
A new majlis area will this year include heritage exhibitions and daily art workshops. Belgian painter Merel De Mol will start the series at 4pm today with a class on falconry painting. On Friday, Suhail Alhasmi will reveal the secrets to creating the perfect scent at his perfume workshop.
Friday night's camel auction is a chance to walk away with a future camel superstar. The race camel auction starts at 7pm and is a chance for breeders to buy the descendants of famous royal race camels. All are conceived through artificial insemination at the Advanced Scientific Group Veterinary Research Centre and the millions raised from the annual auction are reinvested into camel research.
Although the calves are still too young to race and have no track record, their pedigree can command prices in the hundreds of thousands. Bidding starts at Dh25,000.
The annual saluki beauty contest will take place at the arena on Thursday from 1pm to 3pm. An average of 40 to 50 participants compete each year in the competition's two categories – feathery and smooth – for long and short-haired salukis.
"Like any other beauty competition, each breed has specific traits and character," says Dr Khalid Khurram, a veterinarian at the Arabian Saluki Centre. "Judges will look at the length of the tail, the ears, eyes, body shape. I am not a judge but in general, the face should be slender and long, the body condition should be not very fat or obese, and the tail should be long."
The exhibition will also promote conservation and educate the public on the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme, says Al Mansouri. Falconers at Adihex will be encouraged to participate in the programme, which has released more than 1,800 birds into the wild.
"Adihex has also promoted the role of International Fund for Houbara Conservation in breeding birds into captivity before their release into the wild. In recent years, its annual production has exceeded tens of thousands of birds," says Al Mansouri.
Adihex runs at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre until Saturday, open 11am to 10pm. Entry is Dh20 per day, Dh60 for a five-day pass and Dh500 for VIP tickets. For more information, visit adihex.com