Falconry, which has historically been a male-dominated pastime among Arabs in the Middle East, is now experiencing a boom in female interest in the sport, similar to how the camel, the Saluki, and automobile racing have evolved in line with social changes. Falconry has existed throughout history, it is especially important in the culture of the UAE and the Middle East, where nomads have long used falcons to hunt for food, and where falconry is now popular in the UAE as a heritage sport that was inducted into UNESCO's List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2016. It is a hobby that continues to bring families and communities together — a thread that binds the country's history, present, and future.
I spent the last two years photographing these female falconers, following them into the desert near Abu Dhabi and capturing intimate moments as they refined their abilities. These women are an indication of the boldness and independence of Arab women. Perhaps the falcons were a symbol to these women of limitless freedom, as well as of power. Throughout history, falconry has been passed down from father to son, but this is gradually changing in the UAE.
“Female falcons are used for hunting because they are larger and more powerful than the males, and yet, historically, most falconers were men,”
Women find it difficult to hunt in the desert since falconry is a physically demanding hobby. Furthermore, the rough landscape of the desert made it difficult for women to engage on falcon hunting excursions in ancient times. That is why, for centuries, males have dominated this profession, despite the fact that women indirectly assist men in falconry, which subtly excludes women.
My aim is to document women related project from this region.
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For the past two years, photographer Vidhyaa Chandramohan has paid witness as falconry has shifted from being a purely male-dominated sport
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Osha Al Mansoori has been trained by her mother from a young age to join the next generation of female falconers