Qatar’s Falcon Hospital – A Medical Facility Literally for the Birds

Souq Waqif is a state-of-the-art hospital in Doha Qatar, where 150 patients are treated every day. Only patients here all have feathers, as Souq Waqif is a hospital for falcons.

To say that Qatar’s Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital is a medical facility unlike any other would be fairly accurate. But then again, few countries around the world have a falconry tradition as old as the small Arab nations. Keeping the birds in the best possible physical shape is considered an essential duty by those who choose to keep and train falconids, and many of them spare no expense doing it. So it’s really no wonder that Souq Waqif is better equipped and staffed than many human hospitals in some of the world’s most developed countries.

Founded in 2008, the Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital is located in one corner of the main square in Doha’s old city. Everything, from the shiny glass doors at the entrance to the comfortable sofas of the waiting room, lets you know that falcons are the most revered animals in Qatar.

Photo: Alex Blajan/Unsplash

While not as popular as in the time of the Bedouin tribes, falcons remain an integral part of Qatar’s culture. Nowadays the bird plays many roles, from status symbols to pets and racing champions valued at millions of dollars, and their owners are keen to keep them in tip-top shape. That’s where the staff at Souq Waqif Falcon Hospital comes in.

From blood tests, endoscopies, X-Ray exams and a variety of other tests, to cosmetic procedures like feather replacement and beak adjustment, and even gene sequencing machines, Souq Waqif does and has everything you’d expect to have in a modern human hospital, and more.


The hospital welcomes about 150 patients per day, most of which come in for checkups after being bought from one of the many falcon sellers nearby. Others come for regular cosmetic procedures, like talon and beak sharpening, or delicate orthopedic surgeries.

Even something as trivial-sounding as a feather replacement is treated with the utmost care by the staff at this falcon hospital, as there are many things to keeping mind.


“For each species the pattern is different, and for each feather the pattern is different,” technician Abdul Nasser Parolil told the New York Times newspaper. “We have to find the right pattern.”

Many of the professionals at Souq Waqif learned their trade on the job, by watching others, as there are few falcon-only experts around the world. Many of them were doing something completely different before, like karate instructors or cashiers, but they dedicated their lives to learning about falcons, lured by the riches of Qatar.


Qataris are known for their wealth, so the staff at Souq Waqif are no longer impressed by the sums of money some falcon owners spend on their birds. What they are amazed by, however, is the attention they give the falcons.

“The way they look after their kids, they look after their falcons,” one hospital employee said. “Actually, if their child was ill, they would send the driver, the maid or the wife to the doctor. But if the falcon is sick, the man of the house will go himself.”