The Game Fair is spreading its wings with the announcement of a new sponsorship agreement with Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition (S’hail) in Qatar which aims to capitalise on falconry’s soaring popularity around the world.
The international partnership means the Falconry Village at The Game Fair, being held this year at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire from Friday 27 July to Sunday 29 July, will be twinned with S’hail, which takes place in Qatar two months later, in a cultural exchange programme both sides expect to extend for five years.
Plans for a twining ceremony at Ragley Hall and discussions with a view to extending the partnership between the two festivals are now under way.
The deal means S’hail will have a significant presence at The Game Fair this year and incorporates several components. It includes S’hail becoming Falconry Village sponsor and official partner of The Game Fair Enclosure – the exclusive area reserved for Gold and Platinum Package holders. It is further proposed that future Game Fair British Pavilions are assembled at S’hail, which this year takes place from Tuesday 4 September to Saturday 8 September at Katara Cultural Village in Doha.
Organised in consultation with CJ’s Birds of Prey, the Falconry Village has always been a hugely popular part of The Game Fair. Reflecting the growth in popularity of the sport over recent years, the Falconry Village will triple in size this year. Organisers of both The Game Fair and S’hail are keen to highlight, compare and contrast the appeal and importance of falconry in the UK and Qatar, whilst focusing both on education and celebrating heritage.
James Gower, managing director of The Game Fair, explained: “Falconry has been an integral part of The Game Fair since it began in 1958 and is a growing sector for the event. In Qatar the sport is already a national pastime and rooted in culture and heritage. We have lots to learn from each other making the partnership a great fit, and one for us to develop over the next five years.
“The weekend of The Game Fair falls at exactly the right time of year for falconers. Some will be taking falcons north for grouse in August, whilst others will be waiting patiently for the opening of the partridge and pheasant seasons. The Falconry Village at The Game Fair will be bigger than ever this year and this agreement with the Katara International Hunting and Falcons Exhibition reinforces the international appeal of The Game Fair.”
First held in 2017, the first S’hail was a huge success, attracting around 100,000 visitors, more than 90 exhibitors, both local and international, and more than 500 birds of prey and other related exhibits.
It is held at Katara Cultural Village, which was established by Qatar’s former leader Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani to position the state as a beacon for multi-culturalism by radiating the Middle East through theatre, literature, music, visual art, conventions and exhibitions.
S’hail was established to showcase the hobby of hunting and Qatar’s rich falconry heritage. Although it is one of the richest countries in the world, Qatar used to be a barren desert where Bedouins relied upon falcons for hunting prey. The age-old tradition is still a source of prestige for many Qataris keen to preserve their culture. Indeed, the head of the peregrine falcon is used as a watermark for Qatari currency.
S’hail exhibition manager Abdulaziz Al Sayed said: “This sponsorship represents S’hail’s commitment to the The Game Fair as a strategic and long-term partner and also bring together the UK and Qatar. We have a five-year vision and look forward to working closely with The Game Fair on this sporting and cultural exchange. S’hail is one of the largest international exhibitions specialising in falcons and, in terms of size, diversity, and quality, is the first of its kind in Qatar and the Gulf region. We hope this sponsorship helps to promote the importance of international cooperation and cultural exchange in the field of hunting and falconry.”