From Vision to Excellence

Desert Traditions: The Falconry Heritage of the Arabian Peninsula
Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Falconry Heritage Wing

The Archives of Falconry at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey Boise, Idaho, 2006

In memory of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan, (opposite) master falconer and conservationist.
Published September 2007

This album traces the development of Desert Traditions: The Falconry Heritage of the Arabian Peninsula from an idea to reality. Desert Traditions is a permanent exhibition installed in the new wing of The Archives of Falconry at The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. The exhibit is the result of creativity, determination and organization on the part of a dedicated, international team working toward a common goal. The result is a memorable, visually engaging exhibition that introduces the long history and cultural importance of Arabian falconry to an American audience and illustrates the legacy of Sheikh Zayed, late President of the United Arab Emirates; an ardent falconer and visionary leader in the field of conservation. This album reflects the vast amount of work that went into the creation of the exhibit. As these photographs show, it was well worth the great effort.

“Sheikh Zayed is a legend whose legacy continues to live on among us all.”
HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

The exhibit was made possible by the generous contributions of H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed (opposite), son of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

The Archives of Falconry
5668 West Flying Hawk Lane · Boise Idaho · 83709 United States of America Ph. 208-362-8256

Table of Contents
The Vision . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 The Creative Concept . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Research Trip to Abu Dhabi . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Expanding the Building . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 The Pieces of the Puzzle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Installation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .33 It All Comes Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37 International Preview
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45 49

The Team . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Visitors’ Comments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51 Thank You . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52

Mohamed Al Bowardi

The Vision (2005)
Showcasing falconry’s Arabian legacy
This exhibit came about because of friendships in the international falconry community – a community which knows no political boundaries. In 2003, His Excellency Mohamed Al Bowardi, the Managing Director of Abu Dhabi’s Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency and a falconer himself, donated an authentic, traditional Bedu hunting tent to veterinarian and falconer Ken Riddle for use by the North American Falconers Association at a field meet. After the meet, Dr. Riddle donated the tent and all its contents to The Peregrine Fund’s The Archives of Falconry (TAF), where it became the foundation of the Desert Traditions exhibit.


During a visit to Abu Dhabi in 2005, S. Kent Carnie, TAF’s Founding Curator and Archivist, and Frank Bond, a Founding Director of The Peregrine Fund and then VicePresident of the International Association for Falconry and the Preservation of Birds of Prey, presented a proposal for an exhibit that would properly display the tent and depict the legacy of Arabian falconry at The Archives of Falconry. In July 2005, Mr. Al Bowardi, on behalf of the Office of the Crown Prince, responded with a generous grant to build a new exhibit wing. The project was off and running.

“Sheikh Mohamed’s support for the construction of this wing at TAF was both extremely generous and very astute. TAF is unique in the world, the only facility dedicated totally to the preservation of the physical evidence of the history of falconry worldwide. Visited by scholars and scientific researchers as well as falconers – not to mention the interested public – what better showplace to remind us all of the tremendous debt falconers from the four corners of the globe owe our Arab brethren.” Kent Carnie, Founding Curator and Archivist, The Archives of Falconry

Frank Bond, a Founding Director of The Peregrine Fund 

S. Kent Carnie, Founding Curator and Archivist, The Archives of Falconry

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

The new wing was named The Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Memorial Arab Falconry Heritage Wing to commemorate Sheikh Zayed’s exemplary role in world falconry and conservation.
“Around the world, falconers have been at the forefront of the conservation movement. Sheikh Zayed, an avid falconer, has been an inspiration in this regard. He was among the first to address species conservation holistically, looking at the land and its people as well as wildlife at risk. In communities where Sheikh Zayed initiated conservation programs, the sport of falconry has clearly benefited all residents. For these efforts, Sheikh Zayed will be recognized and remembered internationally.” HE Mohamed Al Bowardi



Victor quickly sketched the ideas that became the foundation of the exhibit.

The Creative Concept (January 2006)
Coming up with the idea
It took a team effort — a team with members in three countries with as many as twelve time zones separating them — to come up with a concept for how visitors would experience the exhibit. Kent Carnie of The Archives of Falconry, Hanan Sayed Worrell from the Office of the Crown Prince and Ron Pears, Victor Chorobik and Andrea Petrovic from the exhibit design firm of AldrichPears Associates braved the cold of Boise in January to talk about the goals of the exhibit, the stories it should tell, and what visitors should look at and do there.
“We wanted to create an oasis of a different world and demonstrate the culture and traditions of Arabian falconry that form the roots of Western falconry.” Andrea Petrovic, exhibit designer AldrichPears Associates

Andrea, Victor, Hanan and Kent at The Archives of Falconry in Boise

Kent, Andrea and Ron


Illustrating the exhibit
Once the exhibit concept was developed, it was time to start working out the details. One challenge was to consider both eastern and western perspectives. The exhibit had to be authentic from the Arab perspective, but clear and appealing to western visitors.


Photos, books, websites and video as well as personal experience were sources of inspiration and information.

The design team at AldrichPears Associates in Vancouver, Canada worked with Kent and Hanan to illustrate each element of the exhibit and to define the messages and images that would appear on graphic panels and in audio-visual programs.


The Bedu, as a nomadic culture, rely on an oral tradition so it is a challenge to find traditional reference material, especially in English! They also seldom keep used items, so it can be difficult to find historic artifacts, even recent ones. Because of this, we were very excited to come across this collection of silver antique jewellery.


Research Trip to Abu Dhabi (March 2006)
Looking for artifacts
Although The Archives of Falconry had the Bedu tent and some artifacts to fill it, more objects were needed to flesh out the story of Arabian falconry. Hanan, Kent and Ron Pears, having met in Abu Dhabi, went out into the desert to the Burami Oasis to seek antique artifacts that would help visitors better understand the Bedu culture to be interpreted in the exhibit.


Researching the story
Desert Traditions: The Falconry Heritage of the Arabian Peninsula is not focused purely on the past. Much of the exhibit is dedicated to looking at what is happening in the Arabian falconry community today. The conservation of falcons, their prey and habitat are all key parts of that story.

Examination room at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.


Dr. Margit Muller in the operating room at the hospital.

While in the UAE, Hanan, Kent and Ron visited state-of-the-art falconry facilities to learn more about current issues and technologies. Many of the facilities they visited were established by Sheikh Zayed, whose vision of conservation has inspired a generation of falconers. They also visited historic sites.
Kent and Dr. Olivier outside the National Avian Research Center. Touring historic sites.

Ron at the Arabian Saluki Centre.



Expanding the Building (April 2006)
A new wing was built to house the exhibit.
Despite difficult winter weather conditions, the construction crew of Perkins Construction, Inc., the general contractor, persevered and the building was ready in time. The new addition, designed by Maxey Tookey Architects, blends seamlessly into the existing building.


The last brick...


Once the new wing was built, the construction team opened the wall between the existing archives and the new space.



The Pieces of the Puzzle (May 2006)
Building the exhibit
Once the building construction was underway and detailed drawings of the exhibits were completed, the work of turning drawings into reality began. Specialists took on different aspects of the work: model-makers started carving, artists painted, editors cut film clips, graphic designers found perfect images… It took a big – and dedicated – team of people working on individual pieces to craft a final product that gives shape to a common vision.



Nicky and Kristiana Weseloh in the editing room.

North Shore Productions scripted, produced and edited all the audio-visual pieces in the exhibit. Nicky Silverstone and Rory Banyard flew to the UAE in the hot summer months to research existing video and to shoot original footage.

“Working with video professionals from EAD and Abu Dhabi Television was great; it was good to see that the shared language of filmmaking trumps any other language barriers.” Rory Banyard, executive producer

Mohamed Al Raai filming in the desert.

“One of the high points of the trip for me was holding a falcon on my wrist.” Nicky Silverstone, producer

The film team with Dr. Margit Muller at the Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital.


Custom artwork
The exhibit features custom paintings, photographs and calligraphy.

Mohamed bin Yahya, calligrapher of the original Koranic verse.

Xavier Eichaker spent hours in the desert waiting for the light to be just right to shoot the desert mural.


The large banners that portray falconers at rest and releasing a falcon were painted on special paper, digitally scanned and then printed onto the scrim fabric.

The elegant portrait of Sheikh Zayed is a commissioned original in oil, painted by Roland Van Merbeck. This artist has been painting Sheikh Zayed and the Al Nahyan family for more than 30 years.



Creating these pieces was a labour-intensive and painstaking process.

The model makers at Pacific Studio carved and painted intricately detailed models of falcons, houbara and a saluki for the exhibit. The accuracy of these models, all carved by artist-craftsmen who had never seen a live falcon, much less a houbara, has astounded the falconers (the most exacting of critics) who have since viewed the exhibit. The model makers worked from photographs, illustrations and life models.

The Pacific Studio team also sculpted realistic models of the three men inside the tent. In fact, the men used as models (at left) for the tent scene are Emirati students at the University of Oregon who volunteered their time and travelled to Seattle to pose for the model makers.


Exhibit graphics
The team at AldrichPears worked with Hanan and Kent to select the perfect words and images to tell the story of falconry in the Arabian Peninsula. Multiple drafts of text were written and reviewed. Images, new and old, were considered – only a few were just right, including several famous images by the well-known British explorer Wilfred Thesiger.

Hanan, Amani and Laila looking at images in Abu Dhabi.

Arabian Falconry Heritage
The tradition of falconry in the Arabian Peninsula reflects its peoples’ open society and connection to the desert


Falconry brings people together
Traditional falconry expeditions led by the rulers included many falconers from all walks of life. These multi-week hunts allowed people to speak and interact freely with their sheikhs and show their courage, bravery and gallantry. Falconry formed an important part of the region’s social fabric. It has helped foster relationships among individuals, tribes and nations, and build discipline, endurance and respect for nature.

The peoples of the Arabian Peninsula
The relationships among the three groups of inhabitants in the Arabian Peninsula created a rich and diverse society. Urban dwellers lived along the coastal trade routes. Semi-nomadic herders and farmers settled in desert oases. The nomadic Bedu (Bedouin) lived deep in the desert. Distinctions between the three have blurred with modern times, but the Bedu are still considered the purest Arabs. Their values of honor, bravery, generosity and protection of the weak are the foundation of modern Arab society.

© Pitt River Museum, University of Oxford / 2004.130.22143.1

Falconry is an ancient tradition in the region
Arabian caliphs (rulers), amirs (princes) and tribal sheikhs have hunted with falcons for thousands of years in an unbroken tradition. The Arabian falconers’ passion for this tradition evolved from their deep understanding of the desert and its wildlife and their respect for the nobility, speed and bravery of falcons. Falconry in Arabia is a way of life and a tradition that embodies a heritage of ethical conduct.

Anasabina Espana and Alix Noble looking at images at AldrichPears in Vancouver, Canada.


All the mashrabiah panels covering windows and forming the bases of the audiovisual kiosks were especially commissioned for this project and handmade at the artisan workshops of Nadim in Cairo, Egypt.

Mrs. Hind Nadim, owner of the mashrabiah workshop, with Hanan during an inspection


Sourcing Artifacts
Hanan selected a number of hand-crafted artifacts from the region to fill out the exhibits and create a more richly layered presentation of Bedu arts and culture. Baskets, jewelry and a dagger are showcased in the tent. Large rugs cover the floor of the tent, just as they would have in the desert.


Artifact Case Layouts
Once the artifacts arrived at Pacific Studio in Seattle, Andrea from AldrichPears worked with the fabrication team to determine the best way to display and secure them.


Coordination was really important
With so many different people working on the exhibit, communication was paramount. To make things even more challenging, team members were located all over the world. This project was truly international in scope, and it took incredible organization to keep everyone coordinated.

Hanan’s timely approval of all the contracts, budgets and payments kept all our efforts moving.

Pacific Studio’s website helped everyone stay on the same page. Pink/red: don’t call. Yellow: call only if absolutely necessary. Green: OK


Paperwork for houbara The stuffed houbara were accidentally shipped to Washington DC instead of Seattle, Washington (state) and were subject to strict CITES import regulations.

The rifles never made it because of federal import regulations.


Installation is much more than snapping cases into place. Everything from photo murals to videos to artifacts and lighting needed to be carefully placed and secured.


Installation (October 2006)
Time crunch
As the building completion dates slipped, the exhibit team got nervous – would we be able to install everything before invited delegates from an international falconry conference paid a visit on November 20, 2006? We faced the unpleasant prospect of over 150 international falconers descending upon The Archives to view an incomplete exhibit!

“Haste is of the devil but deliberation is from God. That which is done well is done soon enough.” An old falconer’s expression often quoted by Kent, who received last-minute changes and time pressures with calm, cool composure, obviously based on many years of patience as a falconer.

Pacific Studio worked around the clock to have everything installed and ready in time. Some components had to be finished on-site, like these fortress walls which needed to be plastered and painted by hand.


The crew taking a yoga break.

Everyone lent a hand – this photo shows a very rare specimen, the Marc Burns (Pacific Studio’s Business Development Director), encased for safety.


Hanan pitching in.


The life-like models and portraits on transparent scrims bring the exhibits to life.


It All Comes Together (November 2006)
The finished product
The resulting exhibit is an outstanding-quality, world class display that honors the legacy of Sheikh Zayed and depicts the story of Arabian falconry respectfully and engagingly.

“Based on the life and influence of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, first president of the United Arab Emirates, the exhibits lead the visitor from traditional Arab life in the desert under a goat hair tent to modern-day veterinary clinics and elaborate breeding facilities, showing how western technology has transformed the ancient sport in ways an older generation could never have imagined.” Prof. Tom J. Cade, Founder and President, Emeritus, The Peregrine Fund


Bedu tent
The tent is the icon and centerpiece of the exhibit. Stepping into the tent is like stepping into another time and place; visitors can take seats on richly woven cushions, listen to music and conversation and examine artifacts typical of desert life.


Images, from the large-scale desert mural to smaller photographs of falconers on the hunt, help visitors envision what the hunt is like in the Arabian Peninsula today.



Multi-media experiences
Visitors look through windows into the world of Arabian falconry – all the artifact cases are shaped like traditional windows and filled with intriguing objects. Audiovisuals, graphic panels, models, artwork and immersive environments, such as the tent and an Arabian passageway, provide many things for visitors to see and do. 


Arabian design
Window shapes, carved wooden mashrabiah panels and plaster wall finishes give an impression of an oasis town, and create an Arabian atmosphere without overpowering the space.

This hallway forms a transition from the main archives facility into the exhibit itself. It features traditional forms and shapes inspired by Arabian arches and entries to give visitors cues to the content of the new exhibit. 



International Preview (November 20, 2006)
The first visitors arrive
The exhibit opened just in time for the visit of the international falconry meeting conferees. More than 150 falconers from some 3 countries attending the 37th Annual General Meeting of the International Association for Falconry and Conservation of Birds of Prey convening in Kearney, Nebraska came by chartered plane to visit the exhibit. They were more than impressed – and their comments were more than positive! News coverage was international. The exhibit was recorded in the American, European and Arabian press and has been featured in both International Falconer magazine and, a German falconry magazine. 


Hanan Sayed Worrell, Project Manager, Office of the Crown Prince and Karl-Heinz Gersmann of the Deutscher Falkenorden.

“The new Arab falconry wing at The Archives of Falconry, World Center for Birds of Prey, is a unique and outstanding exhibition of traditional and contemporary Middle Eastern practices of a sport that traces back to the dawn of history… The Arab Wing also stands as a symbol of that brotherhood of falconers that knows no political boundaries and places men and women from all walks of life on an equal footing.” Prof. Tom J. Cade, Founder and President, Emeritus, The Peregrine Fund 


“Well thought out and authentic. It does justice to the long rich history of Middle Eastern Falconry. It was as though I were there!” William F. Johnston, Vice President, Americas I.A.F. (International Association for Falconry & Conservation of Birds of Prey) 



The Team
The international team worked well together
The success of this exhibit is a tribute to international cooperation. Each team involved, from concept to completion, consisted of true professionals who took their demanding responsibilities in stride. The key was keeping in touch. There were countless meetings via phone, email and “live” – including those all-important dinnertable meetings.
”The team was highly motivated, professional, maintained a high level of interest and commitment and persevered through numerous revisions to text and graphics and timelines, to produce a perfect exhibit that was true to the Arabian heritage as well as engaging to the western visitor, both falconers and non-falconers.” Hanan Sayed Worrell 


A number of experts generously contributed their time and knowledge.

Dr. Margit G. Muller, Manager, Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital

Dr. Olivier Combreau, Director, National Avian Research Center (NARC)


Dr. Kenton E. Riddle (left)

Visitors’ Comments
“Sheikh Zayed embodies and epitomizes the falconer-conservationist of the twentieth century with his foresight to promote raptor conservation while continuing the magnificent Arab falconry tradition. His son, Sheikh Mohammed, honors his father’s legacy with this very special Memorial Wing which splendidly presents falconry and conservation in the Middle East.” Frank M. Bond, President, International Association for Falconry and Conservation Birds of Prey and General Counsel, North American Falconers Association

“To have a unique and such well put recreation of Arab falconry as the Sheikh Zayed Wing provides visitors from inside and outside the USA with an accurate vision of rich Gulf falconry traditions, helping in a better understanding of different cultural backgrounds. My congratulations and recognition to all those who have made this outstanding exhibition possible.” José Manuel Rodríguez-Villa Matons, Vice President, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania, I.A.F. and President, Falconry and Birds of Prey Commission, C. I. C.

“It is wonderful to find an oasis of Arabian falconry out here in Idaho. Sheikh Zayed has reached out a hand of welcome to falconers all over the world.” Dr Nick Fox , Director, International Wildlife Consultants and Founding Director, Falconry Heritage Trust

“In March 07 I visited The Archives for the first time. Having viewed the history of our sport up close and personal, and being blown away by the significance of the new Sheikh Zayed Wing; along with annual trips to our national parks, the Archives will be on the must see list for all the Perkins kids and grand-kids. Every falconer of sound mind and body should plan a pilgrimage to the place where our history is kept!” Darryl A. Perkins, President, North American Falconers Association


Thank You
A job well done
Desert Traditions: The Falconry Heritage of the Arabian Peninsula is a unique exhibit. It is a success thanks to the dedication, commitment and talent of the many individuals who helped nurture it from vision to reality.
Crown Prince Court – Emirate of Abu Dhabi
HE Mohamed Al Bowardi, Undersecretary Hanan Sayed Worrell, Project Manager Dr. Ken Riddle, Sr. Veterinarian

Emirates Center for Wildlife Propagation – Morocco
Frederic Lacroix, Head of Center

The Peregrine Fund, Inc.
William A. Burnham, Late President J. Peter Jenny, President

The Archives of Falconry
S. Kent Carnie, Founding Curator and Archivist

Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi
Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Secretary General Nabil Zakhour, Head of Media and Publication Amani Essa, Lead Graphic Designer Mohamed Al Rai, Cameraman, Media and Publication

Exhibit Design
AldrichPears Associates
Ron Pears, Principal Victor Chorobik, Design Leader Andrea Petrovic, Project Manager and Designer Alix Noble, Writer and Researcher Anasabina Espana, Graphic Designer

Emirates Falconers’ Club
Majid Ali Al Mansouri, Chief Executive

Exhibit Fabrication
Pacific Studio
Steve Smith, Project Manager Marc Burns, Business Development Director

National Avian Research Center – Abu Dhabi
Dr. Olivier Combreau, Director Xavier Eichaker, Consultant

Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital
Dr. Margit Muller, Director

Audio Visuals
North Shore Productions
Rory Banyard, Executive Producer Nicky Silverstone, Producer

Center for Documentation and Research – Abu Dhabi
Dr. Abdulla Abdul Kareem Al Rayes, Director General Salma Al Mansouri, Manager Documentation Department

Emirates Media
Mohammad Al Khalidi Photographer for the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority
Mubarak Hamad Al Mehairi, Director General

Maxey Tookey Architects
Harvey J. Maxey, Principal

Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage
Mohamed Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Director General Mohamad Amer Al Neyadi, Director of Historic Environment Mariam Harib Al Daheri, Senior Guide Museums

Perkins Construction, Inc.
John H. Perkins, Principal


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