- Special Pages
Fahad Al Qahtani (left), Director, Al Shaqab Arena, addresses a press conference in Doha yesterday. Media director Fahad Al Harjir is also seen. RIGHT: A view of the state-of-the-art Al Shaqab Arena which will host the first edition of CHI Al Shaqab from March 27 to 31.PICTURES: ABDUL BASIT
DOHA: More than two dozen Qatari riders will take part in the first edition of CHI Al Shaqab, this was announced by a top official yesterday.
Several riders and horses from all over the world will participate in show jumping, dressage and endurance competitions over a span of four days starting from March 27.
Fahad Al Qahtani, Director, Al Shaqab Arena, yesterday said: “I don’t have the exact number but it’s above 25 riders in two events. It’s a great opportunity for them to be a part of such a competition.”
Al Qahtani added: “There is no doubt that this is a big event. We are working together with the Qatar Olympic Committee and Qatar Equestrian Federation. We were planning for an event like this for long, taking our time on the venue and composition of our teams.”
Al Qahtani said it was ‘a dream come true to bring the world of equine to Al Shaqab Arena.
“(It is) a dream come true, I will be honest with you. First of all, for me, as a Qatari I am very proud that such an event is taking place here. As a director, that is a privilege, I have to admit,” Al Qahtani said.
“It’s challenging that you are hosting such an event. This type of event has never been staged in Qatar. And Al Shaqab is not a commercialised entity yet. That in itself is a challenge. We are trying to promote our name as a commercialised entity,” he added.
“In terms of planning, there were a few challenges in terms of operational requirements but they have been overcome as my team is vastly experienced,” the Al Shaqab director explained.
Al Qahtani said the four-day gathering would be the first step towards bringing more events to the country:
“There is no doubt about the fact that Al Shaqab is famous for its purebred Arabian horses. Al Shaqab was founded in the early 90s but the fact is that it’s a part of our culture and our heritage. It’s a historical site ... it has sentimental value for the people of Qatar,” he said.
“At Al Shaqab, you can see that we have a wonderful facility, so we thought, and the board thought, that this is the right time to move ahead and place Qatar on the face of the equine world,” he added.
“This is where the whole idea came from. When you have such a prestigious event here at Al Shaqab, it will emphasize a lot on the equine philosophies of Qatar.
“And this is not something which we are thinking of doing just once. This is something which we want to pass over to our children and grand children. It’s a heritage thing which we want to keep going from generation to generation.
“Also, horses and our heritage always come together. So it is going to play a vital part in preserving our identity.
“In terms of preparations, it has been really hectic and we have been under a lot of pressure, but we are getting used to it.
“We are always on the call, irrespective of whether we are participating in the competition or we are a part of the planning. This event is enormous ... it is a big event. It is elegant and we are expecting the elite riders to be here at Al Shaqab Arena.
“The confirmations we’ve had so far are great .. we are very happy with it. We are very optimistic about the outcome of this event. And we know it is going to leave a buzz in the city for a long time after it’s over,” Al Qahtani said. THE PENINSULA