MEFA is an initiative of the Mohamed bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Fund, sponsored by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, a visionary and committed conservationist. MEFA is proud to work with highly respected Islamic history academics and cultural heritage specialists in the development of the digital archive and related research and materials.
The Mohamed bin Zayed Raptor Conservation Fund was founded in April 2018 by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to develop solutions to critical global challenges facing raptors, or birds of prey.
The Fund works to activate and facilitate global programmes that support the conservation and restoration of raptors and their habitats as valuable elements of biodiversity.
By working at the intersection of conservation and community to build strong conservation collaborations focused on explicit objectives, the Fund strives for continuous improvement in preserving and restoring raptors and their habitats using science, technology and wildlife management.
To ensure that researchers, academics, falconers and future generations learn, understand, embrace and perpetuate falconry practices, the Fund is committed to supporting falconry-related projects. These activities would achieve long-term sustainability of falconry preservation, protection and continuation of traditions through initiatives such as the Middle East Falconry Archive (MEFA).
Patrick Paillat passed away in 2017 in Abu Dhabi, at the age of 71. Patrick was an eminent French falconer, an avid book collector and one of the International Fund for Houbara Conservation Fund’s greatest supporters. bringing his wealth of experience in the conservation of birds of prey, gained from stints in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, his vast knowledge and his enduring passion for research, saw him contribute immeasurably to our various initiatives.
With a deep love for falconry, Patrick took great interest in the history of falconry in Arabia and voraciously consumed literature on the subject. He also possessed a strong desire to pass on his knowledge and expertise to a wider audience, providing broad exposure to the art of falconry and allowing a healthy conversation to prosper.
In the early 1980s, the world-renowned conservationist Jacques Renaud offered Patrick a job in Taif, Saudi Arabia, in a pioneering project to breed and reintroduce Asian Houbara bustards. Taif was chosen as the location for the National Wildlife Research Center because of its particularly mild climate. Created under the leadership of then-Saudi foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal, the centre was to become a large laboratory for captive breeding and re- introduction of several threatened Arabian species, including the emblematic Arabian oryx and the Houbara bustard.
In 2005, Patrick moved to Al Ain, serving as a consultant to the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi on Houbara bustard breeding at NARC.
Patrick especially enjoyed hawking with the tradition- al species of Arabian falcons, sakers and peregrines and took a keen interest in the Arabic literature avail- able on falconry dating back to the eighth century. He worked tirelessly to bring to light the wealth of information and insight that the manuscripts provided, striving to ensure proper preservation.
His Excellency Mohammed Al Bowardi entrusted Patrick with the MEFA project due to his unceasing research efforts and extensive knowledge. The MEFA project, initiated and sponsored by H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, involved a review of Arabic manuscripts on falconry scattered in libraries across the globe.
Patrick led the creation of a bibliographic fund based in Abu Dhabi that implemented the digitisation of the rare manuscripts and an exhaustive production of facsimiles. The Fund continues to successfully execute the MEFA brief, with more than 11 rare manuscripts being reproduced till date and a large-scale distribution of facsimiles to conservation institutes, including the archives of falconry at the Peregrine fund in Boise, USA.
Driven by an intense passion for the preservation of birds of prey and a special love for falconry, Patrick made a major contribution, notably through MEFA to UNESCO’s 2010 inscription of falconry on the list of humanity’s intangible cultural heritage. The Fund is committed to continuing and strengthening efforts started by Patrick, which are hugely important to preserving the UAE’s cultural heritage, and honoring his memory through our actions.
In 2017, Professor Akasoy was appointed as a lead research consultant to the MEFA project for the Sheikh Zayed Digital Falconry Library. She provides expertise in identifying and assessing material for the MEFA archives, conducting research, and presenting premodern Arabic falconry literature to diverse audiences.
Professor Akasoy is a widely published academic whose research interests focus on Islamic intellectual history and cultural contacts between the Middle East, Europe and Central Asia. She is a Professor of Islamic Intellectual History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York where she teaches classes on the history, literature and culture of the Islamic world. Professor Akasoy belongs to the small community of scholars who specialise in medieval Arabic falconry literature.
She studied Oriental Studies, History and Philosophy at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt, receiving her PhD in 2005. After that, she worked as a research associate at the Warburg Institute in London, where she collaborated on the project Islam and Tibet: Cultural Interactions, 8th-17th Centuries. Subsequently, she was a research assistant at the Oriental Institute of Oxford University and a fellow at the Center for Religious Studies at the Ruhr University, Bochum.
Her publications include translations of medieval Arabic falconry texts and studies concerning the cultural history of falconry in the premodern Middle East
Factum Foundation, leading experts in the digital transformation of cultural heritage, have been appointed to develop and manage the MEFA digital archive, which includes the digitization of manuscripts as well as digital archive management.
The Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation is a not-for-profit organisation, founded in 2009 in Madrid by Adam Lowe. Working alongside Factum Arte, its sister company, the Foundation compiles digital archives for the preservation and study of heritage, designs and organises exhibitions, develops equipment for heritage documentation, sets up training centres for new recording technologies across the world, and produces exact facsimiles.
The Foundation is committed to promoting a new approach to conservation based on high resolution digital documentation and the continuous monitoring and studying of works of art. Through research and collaborations, the Factum Foundation has endorsed the development of the leading technologies for heritage recording and re-materialisation.