An extraordinary example of how life in the UAE has evolved in the last twenty years.
With about a thousand falcons received a month, for examination and treatment, the Falcon Hospital’s numbers are simply immense. And its reputation, like its influx of patients, has grown exponentially, well beyond the Gulf region.
“Yes, it started out as a clinic,” says Dr Margit Muller. “And today, the hospital is a world-renowned institution. We’re number one in the World Travel Awards for responsible tourism too.”
Dr Margit’s recounting of the Falcon Hospital’s prodigious progress belies the graft, grit and smarts needed to reach so high, so steadily.
“We’ve tried to do this in a step-by-step way. A sustainable way,” she explains, before casually rattling off a list of accomplishments.
“And we’re not just for falcons. We do VIP boarding kennels for dogs and cats,” she adds.
“The facilities were originally set up for the falconers. One client had to go to Europe for medical treatment and had nowhere to leave his falcon and cat.”
“We noticed that there were very few facilities available at the time in Abu Dhabi, and so an idea just emerged into a reality,” she recounts, convincingly presenting the case that each development occurred organically.
As proof, just over a decade ago, the government trusted the hospital to manage the newly founded Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter (ADAS), the only authorised hospital in the emirate to conduct the neutering for the TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) programme.
In the Arab world, it was the very first such government programme undertaken. Its humane and ultra-organised approach to controlling the emirate’s feral and stray animal populations has been extremely effective, with a commitment that meets international standards.
Within moments of meeting Dr Margit, it is obvious she is the charismatic, driving force behind the Falcon Hospital and its dedicated team is emboldened by her ambition. The enthusiasm is hypnotic, especially when regaling you with encyclopedic expertise.
“The saker falcon is a magnificent bird. Strong, strong, strong,” she begins. “The female is larger than the male, weighing just over a kilo, but she can hunt and take down a gazelle. Extremely powerful, once she has the prey in her sight, she doesn’t give up.”
It is a truly spellbinding feat when you consider the weight disparity between the two creatures. While the gazelle hovers anywhere between 20 and 40 kilos, the saker, a mere fraction of this on the scales, somehow possesses the sheer predatory willpower to prevail.
Punching so far above its weight, the saker is emblematic of the UAE’s development as a nation. Known for its courage and tenacity, this diminutive bird pursues its quarry to the end. These traits are curiously reflected in the hospital’s trajectory under Dr Margit’s stewardship.
“What has happened at the Falcon Hospital couldn’t have happened anywhere else,” she says. “The whole country is moving so fast, pulling you into a stream, to exceed. So vibrant, this atmosphere is catching every one of us.”
“There’s so much innovation, it pushes you forward, in a way that wouldn’t happen in Europe. The time it takes to get a building permit in the UK or Germany, that’s the time they’ve built a high-rise here,” she says.
“And it’s not about the oil. Other countries are swimming in oil,” Dr Margit emphasises. “No, it’s about the vision that’s in the UAE. Doing things for the benefit of others.”
It would take a pioneer to know.
For more information about this incredible entity, visit falconhospital.com