2016 Qatar International Arabian and Arabian Peninsula Horse Shows
Qatar International Arabian Horse Show and International Arabian Peninsula Horse Show: 2016
By Lisa Abraham
On March 11 through the 13th, 2016, the 25th Qatar International Arabian Horse Show took place, followed by the 6th Qatar International Arabian Peninsula Horse Show, on the 14th and 15th. It was five days of exciting competition and warm Arabian hospitality and comradery. Although the show was enjoyed by a prestigious international gathering, it was the enthusiasm of the Qatari breeders and fans that made the show memorable.
To experience a horse event in Qatar is a privilege, as the horse has occupied a treasured role in the history of the country. In an article titled “Al Shaqab—Galloping into the Future,” by Rachel Morris, Al Shaqab’s Fahad Saad Al Qahtani shared, “The Arabian horse was created in this region. It was these horses that gave our ancestors the ability to travel great distances through the desert for trade and exploration.” While Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Khalid Al Thani, the former owner of Al Rayyan Stud, in an advertising piece strongly stated, “The Arabian horse is part of the Arab world’s history and tradition, Qatar’s in particular. I consider it is the Arab’s duty and responsibility to preserve the breed and improve its beauty as well as to further its importance worldwide.”
The country of Qatar is located in Southwest Asia and on the Arabian Peninsula. According to Wikipedia, “Qatar is not only a high income economy, but it is also a developed country. It is backed by the world’s third largest natural gas and oil reserves and the highest per capita income in the world. Qatar is classified by the United States as a country of very high human development and is the most advanced Arab state for human development. It is also a significant power in the Arab world.”
Doha, which is the capital of Qatar, is located on the eastern edge of the country, on the coast of the Persian Gulf. As made evident by the construction everywhere, it is Qatar’s most rapidly growing city with over 40% of the nation’s population living either in Doha or its suburbs. As I traveled with several people who have been to Doha extensively over the last 25 years, it was interesting to hear the stories of how the city has grown from nearly nothing to what the Globalization and World Cities Research Network consider a “World City.” As a testament to its growth, Doha has hosted multiple world class events such as: 2006 Asian Games, the 2011 Pan Arab Games and the 2012 UNGCCC Climate Negations. Additionally, Doha has been chosen to be included as a host to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Judith Forbis, of Ansata Arabian Stud (USA), spent years working closely with both Al Rayyan Farm and Al Shaqab Stud, both located in the Al Rayyan section of Doha. She shared, “I remember well the first time I went to Qatar for their first show--I think around 1991. When I exited the plane, Yousef Al Rumaihi, director of the Racing and Equestrian Club, was there to greet those arriving on that plane: Dr. Nasr Marei, Danny Barbary and others from Egypt. There was a small airport building where we awaited special customs clearance for guests. There were only two hotels, both owned by the Sheraton. Not one building in the city of Doha was over 5 stories high--a regulation, I was told, imposed by the Emir at that time, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani. Today, when arriving at the Doha airport one is greeted by a state-of-the-art international airport with all the brand-name shops to spend time at between planes. While the skyline is illuminated with tall buildings of varied architecture, malls dot the landscape.
“At the show, spectators sat under tented canopies beside the outdoor arena at the Racing Club and Equestrian Club stables where the show was held. Today the new Al Shaqab arena is the landmark building in Education City. There is nothing else like it in the Gulf. There has, of course, been an increase in the number of horses shown from around the Gulf, in particular, with national and international competitions for all Arabians, and also a special show for Egyptian Arabians. Nothing stays the same--the horse shows and the camaraderie that we experienced in America back in the 60's was similar to that enjoyed in the Gulf during the 90's. Today, everything is more professional and less intimate. But make no mistake, it is always interesting and one meets new people and sees incredible horses. But perhaps the most enjoyable thing that does remain the same, is the opportunity to visit the breeding farms that have grown exponentially. To me, and to many others I know, that is what takes precedence. That's where the wonderful Arabian hospitality really shines.”
Doha is a hotbed for prestigious Arabian horse breeding, as some of our most important farms are located there. Due to this, the opportunity to attend horse presentations and to see influential horses is an important one. These presentations also offered great background information for the show as one is able to see both the generations and ideology behind many of the horses competing. During this particular show, there were presentations at: Al Rayyan, hosted by Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani and narrated by Bart van Buggenhout; Al Waab, hosted by Sheikh Abdulla Bin Khalid Al Thani & Sheikh Ahmed Bin Abdulla Al Thani and narrated by Klaus Beste; and Al Shaqab narrated by Broderick Levens.
Anna Bishop, the Executive Director of The Pyramid Society (USA), shared, “In addition to all the highlights of the show, this year I also had the pleasure of visiting Al Rayyan and Al Waab to see their incredible Straight Egyptian breeding programs. I was reminded of my initial visit to Qatar years ago, when standing in the courtyard of the old stables at Al Rayyan and being completely overwhelmed with emotion at seeing their horses for the first time.... It was one of those special, treasured moments in life when you realize just how fortunate you are to be doing what you love. And one cannot say enough good things about the overall Middle East hospitality--another of those instances that is impossible to comprehend until you’ve experienced that level of graciousness.”
Al Shaqab Member Qatar Foundation
In previous years, the Qatar International Arabian Horse Show and International Arabian Peninsula Horse Show were hosted by the Doha Racing and Equestrian Club. This year the venue took place at the Al Shaqab Indoor Arena. As this was my first time attending, I am unable to comment on the accommodations of the previous facility. However, I can write how impressive not only was the Al Shaqab Indoor Arena, but also the entire Al Shaqab facility as a whole—it was unbelievable!
In 1992, His Highness, The Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani established Al Shaqab. The farm was built on a landmark site not far from where the Al Shaqab battle took place over one hundred years ago, which was the battle that lead to Qatar’s independence from Ottoman rule. Within a very short period of time, under the management of Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani, Al Shaqab produced three stallions whose impact has been worldwide and whose influence will remain for many generations: Gazal Al Shaqab, Marwan Al Shaqab and Al Adeed Al Shaqab.
According to the Al Shaqab web site, “In 2004, Al Shaqab became a member of the Qatar Foundation, which was founded in 1995 also by HH, The Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and is chaired by HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. The Qatar Foundation is a private, non-profit organization whose mission is to lead Qatar to a knowledge based economy by unlocking human potential, through home-grown solutions for the benefit of both Qatar and the world. Qatar foundation carries out its mission through three strategic pillars: education, science & research and community development. As a Foundation member, Al Shaqab’s mission is to promote the highest standards in the breeding and showing of Arabian horse while providing innovative, educational and competitive opportunities in all equestrian arts. In 2006, Al Shaqab began an expansion in facilities with the development of this world-class equestrian center.”
The Al Shaqab indoor arena was a lovely venue for a horse show. During daylight hours, the arena was filled with natural sunlight and yet, being indoors, we were protected from the outside elements with the added comfort of air conditioning. It was also bright and colorful and not the least bit dusty. Instead of table and chairs, the VIP section offered big, comfortable, white couches for spectators and guests. Meals were served throughout the day, as well as a constant offering of refreshing beverages. Needless to write, the VIP experience at this show was exceptional.
The Qatari shows were exciting media events—most particular for the Qatari’s themselves. Although top international Medias were present to record show happenings, it was the Qatari media that was most prominent with photographers, videographers and a reporter who was prepared for on the spot interviews. After each class, a man with state-of-the-art, digital video equipment and an attractive Qatari woman would head into the arena to interview the winners. These interviews were broadcasted live at the show, which added a great deal of excitement for the winners and their extensive entourages.
As many of us travel extensively to do what we do in our various capacities, time in the hotel is valuable social time. Previous to the start of the show, for breakfast one morning, I had the pleasure of Mike Ashmore’s company. Although, Mike has his hands in many facets of the Arabian horse business, I was most familiar with his work as the announcer at the All Nations Cup, in Germany. His entertaining banter adds volumes to the quality of the show experience and, in Aachen, his work is a standout. As a side note, I have spent a great deal of time with Dr. Hans Nagel who is one of the organizers of Aachen, which in my opinion is one of the best run shows in the world. On a previous occasion, Dr. Nagel shared with me how important he felt the role of the announcer can be to the overall enjoyment of the show—and certainly Mike fits that bill.
As Mike has attended the Qatar International Arabian Horse Shows for numerous years, he offered great insight into the spirit of the competition. He shared, “Although the big farms are all there with some of the most competitive horses in the world, it is also heavily attended by smaller farms who show up with great pride. They don’t attend with the expectation of winning, but rather being able to participate and have fun—to me they are the story of the show.” I found Mike’s assessment to be accurate as these farms did add a great deal to the overall excitement of the competition. Many of the lesser known Qatari breeders sat in the bleacher seating, just above the VIP section. They were in large groups and prepared to cheer their hearts out for their horses—and it was incredibly joyful to witness their passion. As so many of our top show horses are shipped around the world to compete, while at the same time show attendance is down, it was nice to see that most of the horses competing had their own cheering sections. Additionally, the win photos were filled with excited owners and friends.
Overall, it was the community spirit that seemed to prevail throughout both competitions. Even at the highest levels, although the drive to win was strong, competing farms supported one another in the winner’s circles—another refreshing sight. It was also nice to see that as horses competed, owners and farms mixed and shared warm moments of comradery. In fact, it was difficult to know whose sections were whose, based on the constant socializing and mixing among guests. I would like to share an example of the kind of class and sportsmanship present. Although I was personally in attendance with Al Rayyan Farm, Sheikh Hamad bin Ali Al Thani, who manages the farm, on multiple occasions asked to me photograph his friends who had just won their classes—even when the competition included Al Rayyan horses.
The Qatar International Arabian Horse Show and international Arabian Peninsula Horse Shows are Class A ECAHO shows and are subject to the rules of the conduct of shows as issued by ECAHO, which were clearly stated in the show programs. The categories for scoring included: type, head, neck, body & topline, legs and movement. Scoring was based on a 20-point system with half points. In the case of a tie, the horse with the most points for Type is to receive the higher placement. If this does not resolve the tie, then the score for movement decides. The Championships were judged comparatively.
Judges for The Qatar International Arabian Horse Show included: Marek Trela (POLAND), Jaroslav Lacina (CZECH REPUBLIC), Claudia Darius (GERMANY), Anna Stojanowska (POLAND), Helen Hennekens-van Nes (BELGIUM), Yves Richardier (FRANCE), Brian Ferguson (UNITED STATES), Irina Stigler (RUSSIA) and Christian Moschini (ITALY)
Judges for the Qatar International Arabian Peninsula Horse Show: Manfred Hain (GERMANY), Renata Schibler (SWITZERLAND), Ann Norden (SWEDEN), Marianne Tengstedt (DENMARK), Talal Al Mehri (EGYPT), Pierluigi Rota (ITALY) and Fausto Scanzi (ITALY)
Although quality varied throughout the classes, there was very high quality present and certainly all the champions were of the highest echelon. In the International Arabian Horse Show many of the entrees had competed successfully in several of the most prestigious competitions in the world. For example, the list of veteran champions who competed in Qatar included: Gold Champion Stallion, Hariry Al Shaqab; Silver Champion Stallion, Abha Qatar; Bronze Champion Stallion, Eden C; Gold Champion Mare, Salwa Al Zobair; and Silver Champion Mare, Panarea By Palawan. As a side note, in the International Arabian Horse Show, I found it interesting how many competitors were sired by Straight Egyptian Stallions.
In the Arabian Peninsula Horse Show, I was excited to see so many exquisite examples of straight Egyptian horses—more than I have ever seen in one place. Due to the fact that several farms brought multiple horses to compete, it was interesting to see how certain farms were successfully achieving consistency in type and quality. Also noteworthy was the obvious impact of Ansata Nile Echo, owned by Al Naif Stud (QATAR).
Please make plans to attend the 26th Qatar International Arabian Horse Show and 7th International Arabian Peninsula Horse Show, in 2017
For show results:
For Information on this show and future shows in Doha:
For more information on Al Shaqab Member Qatar Foundation:
For information on ECAHO and its rules:
Lisa Abraham is an International Journalist and Photographer from the United States. Although she does free-lance for various media, her primary dedication is to Arabhorse.com as a Premier Contributor and Representative. She is also a breeder of Straight Egyptian Arabians.