Health

Hospital In Doha, Qatar, Only Treats Falcons

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — At first look, the Souq Waqif clinic within the historic heart of Doha, the capital of Qatar, could possibly be some other state-of-the-art hospital.

Nurses in blue scrubs transfer briskly by way of the intense wards, conducting rounds. Radiology and working rooms whir with the beeps and blinks of displays. Specialists squint at X-rays and masked medical doctors make incisions with all of the high-tech instruments of contemporary surgical procedure available.

There’s only one factor: The rooms are stuffed with falcons.

In the tiny, rich emirate of Qatar, the desert birds are among the many nation’s most pampered residents.

Long revered throughout the Arabian Peninsula for his or her ferocity and searching prowess, falcons at present function sheikhly standing symbols recalling a Bedouin previous. The bond between falconers and their falcons has been an inspiration because the Paleolithic interval, when drawings of the creatures first appeared on cave partitions.

Although much less trendy now than within the days of yore, the artwork of falconry continues to be handed down from one technology to the subsequent in Qatar and different oil-rich sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf. With demand rising lately, golf equipment that educate the game have sprouted up throughout the area. Falcons compete in an rising variety of races and wonder contests.

The most interesting falcons fetch at the very least a number of thousand {dollars} and Qataris spare no expense to take care of their good well being.

“The establishment of the hospital was to support the hobby and heritage of raising falcons … it’s a pastime that stretches its veins into multiple generations,” Souq Waqif hospital director Dr. Ikdam Al Karkhi not too long ago advised The Associated Press. “Keeping them alive and well is an essential duty.”

Public hospitals like Souq Waqif provide professional care to sick and wounded hawks, roughly 30,000 a year. The marbled reception space bustles with house owners and handlers bringing their birds in for check-ups, medical checks, feather replacements, orthopedic surgical procedures — and even one thing akin to mani-pedis.

Falcon nail submitting could be very severe business, as birds transplanted from the desert wild to opulent houses in skyscraper-studded Doha or bred in captivity can not simply discover sharp surfaces on which to trim their talons.

The falcon’s hunt could also be a long-venerated custom, but it surely’s additionally grisly work. The cornered prey at occasions places up a struggle, clawing an attacking falcon and hobbling its wings. Each of a falcon’s feathers is important to its flight, necessitating cautious feather alternative after a scuffle.

Doctors pull from a financial institution of shed feathers to search out one that completely matches the wounded chicken’s breed — plumage of the identical sample, size and shade.

“If these damaged feathers remain, it can cause loss or reduction of the bird’s fitness,” Al Karkhi stated. “They must be treated.”

Hospital surgeons deal with different casualties of the hunt, too. Falcons’ beaks and talons undergo injury from all that swooping and plunging and gobbling.

In the clinic ready room, falcons perch regally on their house owners’ gloved wrists. The Qatari males of their flowing white robes deal with the prized birds like kids, stroking their feathers and misting their beaks with water.

“If a person is neglecting their bird, it’s a huge problem,” stated Hamad Al Mehshadi, a falcon competition supervisor taking his raptor for a daily medical checkup. “When one holds onto their bird, it is something else. The love of the bird is extraordinary.”

Oil wealth and international business could have remodeled Doha right into a futuristic capital with a gleaming array of skyscrapers and megaprojects, together with big stadiums quickly to host tens of millions of soccer followers for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup.

But Souq Waqif nonetheless sees a gentle stream of 150 falcons a day — an indication that the echoes of Qatar’s historical previous usually are not lost.

“Even the look that a falcon and its owner share, it’s different than any other look,” Al Karkhi stated. Falconers “feel the loyalty of this bird — a fierce warrior in the wild and yet a pet in my hand.”

Follow Lujain Jo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/lujainjo.

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