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.

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.