Falconry and Fashion

Seth Stevenson in Slate:

Day2photo18Before diving into the plate-glass heart of modern Dubai, I decided it might be wise to establish some context. I wanted to learn more about the Bedouin culture that once existed here before the construction cranes and money-chasing expats arrived. Thus I found myself, on a weekday afternoon, catching a taxi to the Falcon Center.

The guidebook says the Falcon Center is a complex devoted entirely to the noble sport of falconry. (Falconry was a staple of the ancient Bedouin desert lifestyle and remains a hobby for some Emiratis.) In my head, I’d pictured a giant aviary bustling with high-intensity falcon training. Falcon obstacle courses. Mid-air targets, with falcons violently attacking from every angle. A miasma of shrieking and clawing. As it turned out, the Falcon Center (located on the sandy outskirts of town) was just a large building with some retail stores inside. These stores sold falcons (and falcon accessories).

When I wandered into one, I found several live falcons perched on stands, their heads covered by tiny leather hoods.

More here.