Protection is key for Purebreds

A three-day conference starts today in Abu Dhabi to discuss ways to preserve and protect the Purebred Arabian horse and promote the breed around the world.

ABU DHABI // Ways to preserve and protect the Purebred Arabian horse and to further promote the breed around the world will be some of the key topics addressed at the inaugural World Arabian Horse Racing Conference. The three-day event conference begins today at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre to coincide with the Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition. "The UAE have taken a leading role to promote the Arabian horse in many ways and this conference is another major step forward," Sami Jassim al Boenain, the chairman of the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), said.

"This species needs more care and protection from becoming extinct. They are sometimes mix-bred for speed and lose their identity. We need to create a worldwide awareness of the Arabian horse and I believe this conference is another step forward to create awareness." Abu Dhabi is the unofficial headquarters for flat racing for the Purebred Arabians. It stages several Group 1 races including the President's Cup, one of the richest races in the world with a purse of Dh 1million.

The Arabians have also run at some of the world's most prestigious meetings, such as Royal Ascot in England and the Prix de l'Arc Triomphe in France. "The breed is well advertised in recent times but a lot has still to be done," al Boenain added. "The conference is another great initiative from the UAE, and particularly from Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed." According to Abdullah al Qubaisi, the director of communication at the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, the conference provides an opportunity for all those involved with Arabian horses to work towards a common goal.

"The conference will present and discuss several topics to improve and develop the breed further, particularly for flat racing," he said. "The thoroughbred is the most established but we hope to create an industry for the Arabians, which is so popular in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain." The Purebred Arabian is a horse that originated on the Arabian Peninsula and is one of the world's oldest breeds. Arabian races are promoted by both the Emirates Equestrian Federation and the Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Global Flat Racing Festival, which are both based in Abu Dhabi.

Arabians have been running in the UAE since flat racing came under the Jockey Club rules in 1992. The UAE was also the first country to take Arabian racing to Europe with the launch of the President of the UAE Cup, established in 1994 by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan, specifically with the aim of promoting the breed. "The conference is another big step forward. It brings together delegates and officials from major racing centres, owners, breeders, trainers, veterinarians and race officials to exchange and implement ideas to raise the quality and popularity of the Purebred Arabians," Lara Sawaya, the director of the Sheikh Mansoor bin Zayed Arabian Flat Racing Festival, said.