Falconry has been practised in the Middle East for centuries. Bedouin tribes used the birds to hunt in the desert, to supplement their diet with meat.

Today falconry is a rite of passage for many young Emirati men. Groups of friends regularly meet in the evenings to train their birds, as can be seen in these photos by Getty Images photographer Dan Kitwood.

Abu Dhabi falconry
Emirati men pose with their falcons after an evening training session in Abu DhabiDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A hooded falcon sits on the armrest in a 4X4 vehicle in Abu DhabiDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A falcon sits on a perch before an evening training sessionDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A falcon is pictured on sale at a shop in Abu DhabiDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A GPS device is fitted to a falconDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
Saif Al Kendi uses a lure to attract his falcon during a training sessionDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
Emirati men prepare to use a small helicopter drone to carry a lure for their falcons to chaseDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
Emirati men watch as a small drone takes a lure consisting of a bundle of feathers up before letting their falcons catch itDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A falcon catches lure from a helicopter droneDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A falcon returns to the ground after catching a lure with a small parachute attached to itDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A man prepares to release a pigeon so that a falcon can chase itDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
A man drives back from a kill with his falconDan Kitwood/Getty Images

Falconry is an important part of Arab heritage and culture; the Koran includes a verse permitting hunting with falcons, and the bird appears on the emblem of the United Arab Emirates. In 2012 Unesco added falconry to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The birds are a status symbol in the region; prized falcons can fetch tens of thousands of pounds. A single Icelandic Jer falcon – considered to be the most 'genetically pure' hunting bird – can fetch more than a million dollars at auction, according to the makers of Feathered Cocaine, a documentary about the international trade and smuggling of falcons.

Abu Dhabi falconry
Falcons wait to bought at a shop in Abu DhabiDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
Leather falcon hoods are seen on sale in Abu DhabiDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
Falcon leg restraints hang in a shop in Abu DhabiDan Kitwood/Getty Images
Abu Dhabi falconry
Saif Al Kendi and his falcon are illuminated by brake lightsDan Kitwood/Getty Images