Falcons of Arabia takes flight in Abu Dhabi
Professional Sports Group introduced Falcons of Arabia, a unique photographic celebration of the ancestral sport of falconry to the public in an exhibition at Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi this month.
The Falcons of Arabia: Columbia Threadneedle Collection at Emirates Palace featured highlights from a spectacular new coffee table book - 'The Falcons of Arabia' - which was unveiled to the public at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair on Friday 8th May.
Featured on regional and international news, Falcons of Arabia made a strong appearance in The National, UAE’s leading English newspaper and a highlighted 10 minute segment on Sky News Arabia.
The project was made possible through the patronage of Abu Dhabi Sports Council and the funding of Columbia Threadneedle Investments. It celebrates the noble sport of falconry and highlights its historical importance to the UAE and the wider Arabian Peninsula.
Acclaimed Dubai-based Dutch photographer Wouter Kingma devoted two years to the project and has captured the commission perfectly in the stunningly presented 185-page volume. Mr. Kingma’s body of work encapsulates not only the role the UAE has played in shaping and preserving this important tradition, but also creatively accentuates the magnificence of the falcon – its raw power, amazing speed and enduring beauty.
The book covers themes such as the unique bond between bird and handler and the fascinating world of falconry competition. Mr. Kingma has trained his lens on falcons owned and bred across the UAE including rare white Siberian Gyrfalcons and Peregrine Falcons from Scotland, North America and Siberia.
Mr. Ahmad Al Qubaisi, Manager of Communications Management and Marketing in Abu Dhabi Sports Council, commented on the project 'Falcons of Arabia', “There is no doubt that the book took time and dedication to be produced at this level of sophistication, from printing and the quality that the photographs show to the depth of the content in both Arabic and English. This is a production that naturally aligns with the level that the sport of falconry has reached in the UAE.”
He continued, “Falconry today receives great support from our wise leaders similarly to other traditional sports in our region. Continuing in the path of our founding father the late Shiekh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan who emphasised the importance of supporting the cultural heritage and harnessing the potential possibilities of advancement.”
Mr. Al Qubaisi also mentioned that the book is a valuable complement to the existing projects that are looking to support the culture and tradition of the UAE.
Rupert Pybus, Global Head of Marketing at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, said: “It is amazing to see the project coming to life. Falcons of Arabia is a collection of artwork – magnificent pictures of breathtaking beauty and quality - that celebrates one of the UAE’s most important cultural icons.
“The aim has always been to pay homage to one of Arabia’s greatest traditions and show falcons in a way never seen before in print. With the exhibition and the book I believe we have achieved just that. I hope that within the pages of 'Falcons of Arabia' the viewer gains a true insight into the wonders and importance of this cultural icon.”
For photographer Wouter Kingma, the project went beyond a normal commission.
“The most powerful thing for me, and at the heart of this project, is the exploration of the deep connection between Emiratis and their birds,” Mr. Kingma said, “Shooting birds is, surprisingly, very similar to the experience of shooting people. Some people love the lens and some people freeze. It was the same with falcons…quite fascinating.”
Jamie Cunningham, Professional Sports Group CEO & Founder, said “In 2011, we pitched an idea to Threadneedle Investments as to how they could make an impact in the GCC. It was originally rejected, but we kept pursuing a concept that we believed was 100% right for a challenger brand in the highly competitive GCC investment arena.”
“Two and a half years later, I'm delighted to say that our 'Falcons of Arabia' book and The Columbia Threadneedle CollectIon at the Emirates Palace may set a new standard for excellence in terms of celebrating one of Arabia's leading cultural sports: Falconry.”
For further information, please visit www.Falconsofarabia.com