Ancient strikers: Falconry still has grip on World Cup host Qatar

Qatar has become a focal point for soccer since winning the right to host the World Cup. But another sport is flying high in the historic center of the capital, Doha, as over a million foreign fans flock to the tiny emirate: falconry.

At the bustling Souq Waqif, a 100-year-old labyrinth marketplace in Doha, shops selling spices and souvenirs give way to stores – and even a state-of-the-art hospital – filled with the famed birds that have long inspired passion among Bedouin tribes.

For centuries, Arabs across the region have used falcons to hunt and recited poems extolling their virtues. Today, the birds of prey serve as potent reminders of Qatari culture and tradition even as the skyscraper-studded city races to ready itself for the world’s biggest sporting event.

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