Falcons receive the best medical care in the world at a special falconry clinic in Abu Dhabi, and tourists take the opportunity to meet the proud birds of prey eye to eye.
The falcon, the majestic heraldic animal of the UAE, is not revered as sacred in the Arab Emirates, but is nevertheless of great importance to the Arabs and is treated by many an owner like his own child. No wonder there is a special falconry clinic in Abu Dhabi, which has now also become a tourist attraction. This is on our list of the top 10 sights of Abu Dhabi.
The proud hunting falcons have always played a major role in survival in the desert on the Arabian Peninsula and are still part of many families today, either by tradition or as a hobby. From Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Oman and of course Abu Dhabi itself, the sheikhs come to the falcon hospital to have their precious pets treated in the world's leading centre for falcon medicine.
World's best falcon medicine in Abu Dhabi
The falconry clinic in Abu Dhabi owes its foundation to Dr Margit Müller, who discovered her love of birds of prey during her veterinary internship in Dubai. The German doctor contributed significantly to the establishment of the hospital in 2002 and now treats around 5,000 falcons a year.
In the waiting room of the falconry clinic, the chairs have been replaced by perches. Under their leather hoods, the feathered patients wait patiently for their turn. On the examination table they are anaesthetised and then calmly examined and treated. Foot problems due to lack of exercise, too long claws and broken feathers are the most common complaints.
Particularly difficult cases end up in the operating theatre. There, wings are mended, legs splinted and all kinds of wounds are treated that the falcons have sustained during their training and hunting flights. In a 60-metre air-conditioned free-flight facility, the falcons can recover from the strain of the treatment and gather new strength before they are allowed to return home.
After a tragic accident with barbed wire, many an owner could hardly believe that his beloved bird was able to fly again without problems after a few weeks. Saving the animals also plays a role financially, because a well-trained hunting falcon costs between 15,000 and 40,000 euros.
Dr Müller is now also highly regarded in Abu Dhabi and the surrounding area and was personally presented with the Abu Dhabi Award by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2008 - a great honour for a woman.
Eye to eye with the falcon - visit to the falconry clinic
Since 2007, the Falcon Clinic of Abu Dhabi has also been open to the public. It is located near the airport on the Abu Dhabi Sweihan-Al Hayer Road and is best reached by rental car or taxi. Dr Müller is happy to give interested tourists a personal tour of the falconry clinic's grounds and reports passionately on her delicate work.
In the treatment rooms clad in fine woods, between the enclosures, at the flight show and in a small museum room, visitors learn everything about falcons and falconry. With a bit of luck, a minor treatment or even an operation can be experienced live. The unique experience of seeing the majestic birds of prey up close and even being able to touch them is not to be missed.
In addition to the falconry clinic, the facility also runs a treatment centre and animal shelter for stray dogs and cats and provides a conference room for lectures and events.