Vidhyaa Chandramohan

Photojournalist + Visual Storyteller
The world's biggest falcon hospital in Abu Dhabi
Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Nationality: Indian
Biography: Vidhyaa is a photojournalist based in Abu Dhabi. She focuses her documentary work in the UAE on gender, cultural, social, and environmental challenges and issues. Her goal is to do new things and reveal untold stories about the UAE. As a... MORE
Private Story
The world's biggest falcon hospital in Abu Dhabi
Copyright Vidhyaa Chandramohan 2023
Updated Aug 2022
Topics Documentary, Editorial, Essays, Feature, Photography, Photojournalism, Wildlife

For generations, falcons in the Middle East have been renowned for their beauty, bravery, and hunting prowess. That the capital of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi, is home to the world's biggest falcon hospital, complete with surgery rooms, an ophthalmology department, and a pox section, seems appropriate. A big critical care facility is available for the most seriously ill birds. When the hospital's director, Dr. Margit Muller, discusses a normal day at the facility, it sounds like a human hospital: rounds, medication checks, surgeries. Muller believes that falcons are "like children in a family." 'This profession is extremely special because the Emirati falconers regard their falcons like family members.'

Falconry requires patience and cooperation on the part of both the falconer and the bird. The falconer obtains the trust and loyalty of his bird by treating it softly and empathically throughout its life. Over the years, Emirati falconers have perfected their breeding and rearing techniques, and participating in a falconry event enables you to see this ancient custom firsthand.

Falcons have become a cultural emblem in the UAE capital, owing in part to their exceptional talent and endearing personality. Since ancient times, falcons and falconry have been intertwined with Emirati culture, with this bird of prey playing an important role in the life of Bedouins (nomadic Arab people), who relied on falcons to hunt for food by catching bustards, curlews, and other small birds. These precious birds are now given passports and have access to high-quality check-ups, treatments, and feather substitutes, since the sport of falconry has become very popular in the modern day.

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