Image via Saudi Press Agency
Over the last few years, Saudi Arabia has been setting record after record, such as holding the world’s largest camel sporting event in September 2018, the largest the world's largest rubber water park in October 2018, the largest picture mosaic formed by people in 2017 on World Diabetes Day, the largest human awareness ribbon in the world in 2015, and the largest donation of school supplies in 24 hours in 2012. This year, Saudi Arabia has entered the record books once again, this time for the World’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 the capital Riyadh. The festival comprised a number of contests, such as a 400-metre competition, with 13 cup rounds to determine the overall winner, and a beauty pageant for the best-looking bird. The total prize pool for the festival was almost SAR18 million (approximately 4.7 million US dollars).
Hossam bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Hazimi receiving the certificate
As reported by Asharq Al Awsat, the executive director of Saudi Falcons Club, Hossam bin Abdul Mohsen Al-Hazimi, received the official certificate that confirmed the festival's registration from Guinness Book Of World Records official representative, Shida Subasi Jamissi, in Malham, north Riyadh.
Speaking on this landmark achievement made by the Kingdom, Jamissi said, “It is an honor to attend SFC competitions, in which 1,723 falcons have participated, a new category that was recorded according to the international standards […] The recognized standards state that there should be no threat to life and all participating falcons must be in good shape. After getting the accurate number from Statistics Dept., I can confirm that SFC was officially registered in GBR with 1723 falcons, as the world’s largest falcons’ tournament here in Riyadh on February 3, 2019.”
Saudi Arabia is one of 11 countries on the UNESCO list of falcon-breeding countries and is home to many falcon species, as well as a major passageway for other migrating birds of prey. In fact, falcons are considered a significant part of life amongst the country’s Bedouins who see them as a symbol of bravery and nobility.