Text By: Annie Hayes
Research & Photographs by: Hamad Al Ghanem

Arabian Bedouins have been breeding Salukis for thousands of years. These desert hounds, known for their exceptional stamina, intelligence and loyalty are highly prized by the Bedouins. Known by the Bedouins as Wind Drinker, Daughter of the Tent, Son of the Desert, Desert Eye, the Bedouins even allow them to share their tents.

Hamad Al Ghanem, a Dubai businessman and Saluki breeder, possibly knows more about the Arabian tradition of breeding Salukis than anyone. Hamad comes from a well-known and respected Arabian family who have become famous in the region for breeding Salukis. Hamad Al Ghanem’s family have been breeding the Aseel Salukis - the purest breed of Arabian hounds, for over 7 decades. The family tradition of Saluki breeding has been passed from fathers to sons for many generations, and to own one of the exceptional Al Ghanem Salukis is the privilege of the noblest Arabian families, as well as many fortunate people across the globe.

Sadly today, however, times are changing and along with it the deserts and Arab lifestyles that created the circumstances in which the Arabian horse and the saluki flourished, now no longer exist. “The Saluki may be lost to our future generations unless steps are taken to preserve it now” Hamad said.

Hamad has diligently researched the Saluki breed since he was a boy, and is presently compiling a historical book on the subject, attempting to show what an important role the Saluki played in the traditional Arab past, and still does today. He is a member of the U.S.A. World Kennel Club and also a Board Member of the Society for the Perpetuation of Desert Bred Salukis based in Arizona USA, where he supplies them with essential information and data about this rare breed. Hamad has founded the Saluki of Arabia Club, which is the first of its kind in the region, and at present is developing a web site for the breed where owners can find out more about their dogs, and newcomers to the breed can ask questions. He is also liasing with governments around the Gulf to preserve the Saluki Arabian heritage by releasing a series of Saluki stamps. Bahrain has taken up the challenge by releasing a series of 8 stamps containing Saluki illustrations. Hamad is also in close contact with Royal families and nobles throughout the Gulf region and beyond, to preserve the Saluki heritage.

To understand the Saluki breed Hamad said it is important to understand the background and history of the breed. Hamad tells that the Saluki history is closely tied to the history of early man. The Arabian Desert, the cradle of many civilisations, produced two famous breeds of animals -the Arabian horse that was used for transport and war, and the Saluki gazelle hound for hunting.

Hamad’s detailed research on the breed’s history shows that Salukis can be traced back to 7,000 BC - 11,000 BC, when man spread out across the fertile lands known as Mesopotamia. In order to catch game, from necessity, early man began the domestication of the local wolf. With selective breeding they produced the first domesticated dog: the Saluki. The Saluki breed was bred to assist man in chasing prey and catching it in the harsh desert climate.

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