Mazrouei: Interest of late Sheikh Zayed in falconry as deep-rooted heritage turns into global human cultural legacy

A precious heritage

ST. PETERSBURG - The President of Honor of The International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) Dieter Schramm has praised the great efforts made by the UAE - in particular the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) - for registering falconry as a living human heritage in the representative list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
On behalf of CIC, he congratulated the leadership of the UAE on this extraordinary achievement.
On the occasion of the 58th General Assembly of CIC in St. Petersburg in Russia during the period from 12 to 15 May 2011, Schramm said that the Global Community of Sustainable Hunters, which comes under the umbrella of CIC, deeply appreciates the decisive role of the UAE in achieving this great success as a model of preserving the common international human heritage between the world's countries.
The UAE was "the Most Honorable Guest" at the Assembly, which was attended by more than 400 members and leading personalities of the global conservation community.
"Through the UAE's internationally-known interest in Arab heritage, values, customs and identity, falconry got the best and most universal recognition as a human cultural heritage," he said.
"Consequently, hunting in all other sustainable forms received a tremendous up-lift, thanks to the UAE wise leadership. We, the CIC, are paying homage to the UAE and, in particular, to ADACH. We are proud of our association with the Emirates Falconers Club. Within our membership in 84 countries around the world, we actively promote the obligation the sustainable hunting community owes to the UAE for their outstanding achievements for both our hereditary culture and our hunting traditions," he added.
He said that the motto of the General Assembly in St. Petersburg: “Hunting - a Part of Cultural Heritage” once more "underlines the philosophy and vision you share with the world and are associated with extraordinary achievements you practised on the ground. This is through your interest in promoting human heritage as a vital means of building bridges between peoples and opening dialogues between contemporary human cultures, starting from the UAE leadership's vision in these fields."
"The CIC, consequently, is deeply honored to use this Global Forum of Sustainable Hunting in St. Petersburg under the High Patronage of HE President Medvedev, to praise the UAE leadership for the outstanding service it has given not only to the International Conservationist Hunter but to our world in general," Schramm said.
For his part, His Excellency Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Advisor for Culture and Heritage in the Court of His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Director General of ADACH, said that hunting is part of deep-rooted Arab culture.
"Hunting was one of the first indications of the collective consciousness of humanity. It was associated with perception and the sense of community - both early signs that brought people together and, consequently, led to the building of cultures and civilizations in various shapes and forms," Mazrouei said.
On behalf of Mazrouei, Dr Awad Salih, advisor on international cultural cooperation at ADACH, delivered a speech to the General Assembly, in the presence of Mr Abdallah Al Qubaisi, Director of the Communication Department at ADACH and the Director of the International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADHEX).
"As we meet today, we honor a cultural feature that has lived with us since the beginning. Hunting, with its customs and traditions, is one of the forms of indispensable heritage," Mazrouei emphasized.
"In the UAE, our story with hunting is as old as the story of human settlement in this vibrant part of the world. Falconry could, perhaps, best illustrate this story," he added.
Al Mazrouei spoke about the leading role of the UAE in the establishment of the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the successful efforts for the registration of falconry. This was after a request from CIC.
He pointed out that last November, the UNESCO announced the registration of falconry as a living human heritage in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Mankind. This was due to the efforts of eleven countries, led by the UAE, to complete the falconry dossier as an example of the international human heritage common among the world countries.
He stressed that this honors the directives of the UAE wise leadership represented in His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, may God protect him, and His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Their instructions are to support every international effort that contributes to the protection of human heritage and lays the foundations for mutual cooperation between different peoples and civilizations, all this as part of the strategy to safeguard the ancient cultural heritage of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
"We had the honor to be the coordinator of the international falconry dossier which was joined by eleven countries from three regions in Africa, Asia and Europe. The countries are: Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and Syria. We, in the UAE, highly appreciate the positions of the participating countries. We worked as one team, and we felt the spirit of the 2003 convention on the conservation of world heritage," Mazrouei said.
He noted that in the light of the tendency towards bringing other countries to join the international falconry dossier, last March ADACH organized a workshop aimed at adding the Republics of Austria and Hungary to the list of the signatory countries.
"We are pleased to welcome each of the 63 countries, where falconry is practised, to join this dossier," he added.
Al Mazrouei stressed: it is a source of pride for us that falconry - this cultural human practice, which is one of the most important methods of hunting and dates back more than 4000 years - is recognized. This is to win the most prestigious and important international recognition as a cultural human heritage - by it meeting all international conditions and standards for considering one of the cultural elements as authentic and distinct heritage that expresses the pride of nations, groups and individuals in it, as one of the key components of their culture and identity.
The interest of the UAE in heritage in general, and the heritage of falconry in particular, is seen as one of the effective means that contribute to building bridges between peoples and promoting ways of rapprochement and dialogue between the contemporary human cultures. This is based on the vision of the rightly guided leadership of the UAE in these areas.
The UNESCO has commended the falconry dossier, describing it as based on a huge field work, a scientific study and accurate documentation. It said the dossier will help many countries in the future to take advantage of this rich experience. The committee has recommended that the falconry dossier be taken as an example to be followed by the countries.
He pointed out that the International Association for Falconry has highlighted the efforts of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, may God bless his soul, in the conservation of falconry and the emphasis on the principle of sustainable hunting.
"The interest of late Sheikh Zayed in falconry as an authentic heritage turns into a global human cultural heritage," said Mazrouei.
As part of ADACH's strategy to safeguard the intangible cultural heritage of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, the Authority is enhancing its efforts to register a number of the pillars of the national heritage in the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in the UNESCO, mainly the craft of Sadu (the traditional skills of weaving in the UAE), folk games, the folk-art of Al-Iyyalah and Al-Taghruda heritage.
The experts and researchers in the Intangible Heritage Department in the Authority have prepared inventories for more than 200 of the elements of the intangible cultural heritage in the country, as part of the procedures required by the UNESCO for addition to its Representative List.
Finally, Al Mazrouei thanked the participants in the meeting to confirm what we believe in - that hunting is a deep-rooted cultural aspect that should be celebrated and protected as an intangible heritage.
"I am pleased to express our full readiness in the UAE Falconers' Club and ADACH to engage in every cooperation that would enhance the awareness about the importance of hunting with all its kinds in a world busy with technologies and cultural and social changes," he said.
Al Mazrouei, board member of the Emirates Falconers Club, concluded by extending an invitation to the 400 participating members to attend the activities of the next session of the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (Abu Dhabi 2011) next September. This important regional and international event has been held since 2004 under the slogan of the principle of "sustainable hunting”.