A Falconer in Front of Qasr Al-Hosn, the Ruler's Fort in Abu Dhabi


This 1960s photograph shows a falconer in front of Qasr Al-Hosn, the traditional fortress residence of the shaykhs of Abu Dhabi. Originally built as a watchtower in about 1761 by Shaykh Dhiyab bin Isa, it was expanded into a small fort in about 1793 by his son, Shaykh Shakhbut bin Dhiyab, and at that time was made the permanent residence of the ruler of Abu Dhabi. It was further expanded in the late 1930s as revenue from oil concessions began to flow, and it remained the main palace of Abu Dhabi until 1966. Falconry is both a sport and a means of hunting for food that developed over centuries in the Arab world and in other countries. Known as the “sport of shaykhs,” falconry was inscribed on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. The photograph is from the Colonel Edward "Tug" Bearby Wilson Collection in the National Library, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, and was taken by Wilson. Colonel Tug Wilson (1921–2009) was a British army officer who, in the 1960s, was seconded to the government of Abu Dhabi to help build the national defense force. He was a personal friend of the ruler of Abu Dhabi, Shaykh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (1918–2004), with whom he shared interests in falconry and horseback riding.

Last updated: November 23, 2011