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A unique night auction of birds and animals just beyond the city attracts quite a crowd Aninda Sardar aninda@apexstuff.com

A pair of pigeons in a cage held high in one hand and a megaphone in the other with which he invited bids from the crowd, 20 year old Naser al Kharousi looked on in anticipation. Naser, who came to know about the auction on the Internet, was one of many exhibitors who displayed their birds to the fairly large audience that had gathered at the Muscat Pigeon Auction (MPA). This, despite the oppressive heat of the muggy summer night. Organised on the last Thursday of every month outside a villa in Mabellah, the auction is popular though relatively unknown among people in Muscat. “We started this auction last year after the government put a stop to exporting and importing birds following the bird flu scare,” explained Abdullah al Ghailani, one of the six founders of the Omani Bird Fanciers Society that organises the event. The objective was to provide pigeon breeders and buyers with a platform that would serve as an alternative marketplace. The last

edition of the MPA, the 13th, saw a record 37 exhibitors. “We started last year with just ten exhibitors; this time we had so many that we ran out of time. Ten of them could not even show their birds,” he said. The event starts at about 8.30pm soon after the day’s prayers are over. However, the auction does not pick up pace until 10pm and goes on till the wee hours next morning. Although a majority of the exhibits are birds, mostly various breeds of pigeons, some animals too are auctioned here. “This time, we have a couple of rabbits, besides the pigeons,” Naser’s friend, 19 year old Assad al Kharousi informed. For Naser and Assad, the auction funds their hobby of breeding pigeons. “This is the fifth time that we have come here. Our objective is to get a good price, which is easier at the auction since there are usually more than one buyer for the same bird,” Naser said. A pair of Jacobean doves were auctioned for RO90, the highest bid of the evening. Such is

the popularity of the event in Mabellah, news of which is passed only through word of mouth and the recently launched website of the society (www.omanibfs.com), that people from as far as Jaalan Bani bu Ali, nearly 400km away, turn up. The occasional Emirati can also be seen here. “This time, there were five Emiratis from Al Ain who participated in the auction,’ Abdullah informed. Despite its popularity, however, the MPA continues to be the result of the efforts of the society’s six founder members and the two technical experts who run the website. For

ISSUE 275

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JUNE 11, 2008

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Abdullah and his friends Hamed al Busaidi, Ali Zahrani, Ali al Bahlani, Mahmood al Wahaibi, Khalil al Balushi, Ahmed al Siyabi and Khaled al Busaidi, there has been little by way of government or private support so far. “We fund the auction by charging half a rial from each exhibitor. From the chairs to the lights, everything comes from the 500bz charged per exhibitor,” said Abdullah, adding that the organisers have spent from their own pockets on more than one occasion to conduct the auction. But they are passionate and optimistic of the future. “Every good idea starts off struggling; ours is no exception. I am certain that our next generation will continue to organise this event and take it to greater heights,” he said. For details, log on to www.omanibfs.com


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