President Vladimir Putin came to Saudi Arabia bearing a gift – a Russian gyrfalcon for Saudi King Salman. Falconry is a popular pastime among Saudi royals, though the bird showed a lack of decorum by soiling the palace floor.
The Russian president brought the female gyrfalcon to Saudi Arabia on Monday, as he arrived in the country with an official visit. The Saudi King’s return gift was a painting.
The bird is named Alpha, though her new owner might choose to rename her yet.
The solemn moment of gift-giving was marred somewhat, though. The blindfolded gyrfalcon, apparently nervous from all the commotion, seemed to suffer a case of irritable bowels right in front of the cameras.
The unusual gift fits right in with Middle Eastern traditions, where hunting with birds of prey is one of the favorite pastimes, among the Saudi royals in particular. Some appear to take their hobby way too seriously, with at least one Saudi prince once buying tickets for each of his 80 birds on a commercial flight, while two others got caught during an attempt to smuggle much-sought avians from Russia.