QASSEM, Saudi Arabia (NBC/RTV) — Falconry is a hobby that has always been associated with royalty and the rich, but this “Sport of Kings” is taking flight with everyday people in Saudi Arabia. Owners are flocking to specialized facilities, known as a “Tie,” that house birds of prey for up to six months before the hunting season begins. The dedicated falcon hall is equipped with insulated walls, a special cooling system and sand floor to mimic the desert conditions.
The overall health of the birds is very important. An analysis of its blood is undertaken and it is vaccinated against keloid epilepsy, which can be caused when the birds are overexerted. The Tie usually begins in March and ends in October. During that time, the falcons will remain inside the Tie hall and be cared for day and night by a falconry expert. Some falcons are worth tens of thousands of dollars and can dive at speeds of 200 mph.