Saudi falconry festival gets Guinness World Record

The avian gathering in Riyadh is now officially the planet's biggest event of its kind

Demonstrations with birds of prey will be part of 'Rustic Landscapes'. Pixabay
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Dubai has long been known for its affinity for breaking world records but it seems that it’s not the only country in the region with a penchant for this. Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has just smashed a Guinness World Record for holding the planet's largest falconry festival.

The King Abdul Aziz Falconry Festival saw a record 1,723 birds participate in the event which ran over 10 days from January 25 to February 3 in Riyadh.

The largest event of its kind on record, it saw thousands of handlers from all across the GCC head to the Saudi's capital's outlying town of Malham to compete.

Races at the festival included the 400-metre competition, plus 13 cup rounds to determine the overall winner. There was also a beauty pageant to crown the best-looking bird.

The total prize purse was almost SAR18 million.

Falconry is one of the most ancient pursuits in the kingdom and a heritage museum explaining traditional training and hunting techniques were part of the festival. There were also plenty of falconry-related activities for children including sessions where they could get hands-on with the birds of prey.

A photography competition open to both amateurs and professionals, theatre entertainment and a cultural village taking visitors on a nostalgia-led journey of Riyadh in the 1950s were also on the schedule.

Saudi Arabia is one of the top 11 countries listed by Unesco as being home to various species of falcon.