By Roberta Pennington
ABU DHABI // Falcons, show horses, parrots, Arabian salukis, houbaras and camels will be among the many attractions at the 12th annual Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition, which begins on Wednesday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
The four-day exhibition, now counted among the four biggest hunting shows in the world, has expanded its showroom area to cover more than 17,000 square metres – an increase of about 18 per cent compared with last year.
“The number of participating countries has also increased by a similar rate, with the participation this year of more than 640 companies from 48 countries,” said Adihex chairman Mohammed Al Mazrouei.
Products on display fall in one of nine categories: arts and crafts, equestrian, falconry and birds, hunting, outdoor leisure equipment and vehicles, promotion and preservation of cultural heritage, sport fishing and marine sports, veterinary and pharmaceutical products and services, and weaponry. About 120 of the exhibitors are Emirati.
“The are a number of new companies coming to the show – international and Emirati,” said Abdulla Al Qubaisi, director of the exhibition, which is organised by the Emirates Falconer’s Club and Informa Exhibitions. “We have new products that are going to be launched for the first time internationally in the hunting show. Of course companies will do their own launching individually. They will be announced every day.”
Emiratis visiting the show who are age 21 and older with no criminal record and security clearance are permitted to purchase one hunting firearm or weapon.
Foreigners, however, are required to meet more stringent terms and conditions set by the Ministry of the Interior, as well as gaining permission from their home embassy, said Mr Al Qubaisi.
“Expats can buy, of course, from anywhere in the world. If they come and see a piece that they like they can buy it and it will be delivered by the company to their country,” he said.
Last year, the exhibition attracted a record 118,996 visitors. Organisers say they are anticipating an even larger crowd this week as more live shows have been added, more products will be on display and more entertainment for children will be offered.
Mr Al Qubaisi said the animal shows were a crowd favourite.
“The Al Ain Zoo demonstration, for example, is very popular. The K-9 show with the police is very popular and very exciting. This year, for the first time, we have the Army horse riding – kind of like a calvary – but they’ll be doing showjumping. So that’s also a new thing. It is popular, there are a lot of people coming just for that.”
The exhibition also features a number of contests with thousands of dirhams in cash prizes up for grabs. Among the most popular are the Arabian saluki beauty contest and the falcon beauty contest. There are also photo and painting competitions featuring the best hunting, equestrian and Emirati heritage images.
The event was first held in 2003 with just 40 exhibitors as a means to promote national heritage and sustainable, responsible hunting.
“From that year, even in its small scale, it was very successful because of the visit of the late President, Sheikh Zayed,” said Mr Al Qubaisi. “He visited and he encouraged us to promote the culture of hunting and the environment and to have a bigger and better exhibition. That visit inspired the organising committee, of course, with the support of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed and his patronage to this exhibition.”
Mr Al Qubaisi said the event offers something for everyone.
“It’s an ‘edutainment’ show, it promotes a lot of cultural values and environmental values,” Mr Al Qubaisi said. “There are a lot of gadgets and toys and things on display that can be used not only for hunting, like outdoor equipment, tents, camping stuff – even 4x4 customised cars for desert trips.
“It has also horses and horse equipment, falconry and falcons and falcon equipment. It will be a pleasant show.”
The exhibition is open from 11am to 10pm until Saturday. Entry is Dh10 and free parking is offered in Car Park B. For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit adihex.com.