A Saudi man displays a falcon which was sold for $173284) during an auction at Saudi Falcons Club Auction in King Abdulaziz Festival in Mulham, Riyadh. File/ Reuters
A young falcon in Saudi Arabia has sold for more than $170,000, the most expensive sale ever of that type of bird and the costliest purchase so far at an annual 45-day auction of the hunting birds cherished in Gulf countries.
The bird was sold on Tuesday for 650,000 Saudi riyals ($173,000) by virtue of its unique characteristics and scarcity, the auction's organisers, the Saudi Falcon Club, said in a statement.
The club said it was the most expensive sale ever globally for its type - a young Shaheen breed, a type of peregrine falcon.
Falconry is an important part of the cultural desert heritage of Arabs of Saudi Arabia and neighbouring countries going back thousands of years.
Falcons, whose flight speeds can exceed 300 km an hour, are recognised internationally as endangered. Countries have varying regulations governing their sale, capture, breeding and hunting activities.
The falcon, weighing 1.1 kg, was captured from the wild in Hafer Al Batin, in north-east Saudi Arabia, the club said.
The auction from Oct. 3 - Nov. 15 is organised by the Saudi Falcon Club, founded in 2017 and supported by the government as a way to preserve and nurture this heritage activity.
Falcon owners in the Gulf, seeking hunting opportunities, commonly travel with their birds inside plane cabins to countries like Pakistan, Morocco and the central Asian region during colder months.
According to the state news agency SPA, the sale is considered the most expensive Saudi-produced falcon across farms in the Middle East.The falcon is 17.5 inches long, 17.25 inches wide, and weighs 1,105 grams.
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