Rising wealth in the region is driving growth in the equestrian world and as a result more than 200 horses will go on sale at the fourth Dubai International Horse Fair (DIHF), the region’s leading exhibition, which kicks off today at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Apart from top international breeders, manufacturers and distributors will be on hand to take advantage of growing demand for accessories, equipment and equestrian services.
The event’s draw has become international and manufacturers and distributors from Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States are expected to hold major displays and product launches for the Middle East.
One of the highlights of the show will be the auction of Arabian and thoroughbred horses by Al Faisal Stud, which will be the biggest horse sale in the UAE.
Despite the fact the Arab world has had a long history of breeding and raising champion horses, over the years, regional horse owners have started looking to mature international markets to meet all their equine needs. But experts Emirates Business spoke to on the eve of the DIHF said regional breeders are working to reverse the trend.
They also pointed out that as the population continues to grow and as world-class facilities for horse racing, polo and show jumping are being built in the UAE, the country is all set to make its mark on the racing map of the world and the market for equestrian supplies and services is set to grow with it.
Talking to Emirates Business about how the importance of the DIHF and the business has grown over the years, Abdulla Qassem, who is a board member of the Higher Organising Committee of DIHF and Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship, said: “The show has grown in exhibition net space of more than 250 per cent since its launch four years ago.
Last year’s edition hosted 213 exhibitors from 27 countries. More than 30 countries have confirmed their presence at the show and the number of exhibitors has increased.
“This year the show will host an official French pavilion for the first time plus exhibitors from Japan and Singapore. A total of 7,833 visitors from 71 countries came to the show last year.
In addition, there is increased participation from regional and local companies this year, which reflects the strong demand from suppliers and distributors to access the dynamic Middle East’s equestrian market.”
The rise in interest in the show and the increase in business is attributed to the fact the population in the region and their spending power has been rising steadily along with the country’s equestrian facilities.
Qassem said: “Thanks to the visionary leadership of the rulers across the Gulf, booming economical developments allow people to enjoy increased spending capacity and become riders and horse owners.
“As a result, some of the world’s best-established European and American specialist suppliers are looking to raise their profile in the Middle East through their participation in the fair.”
One exhibition stand sure to draw attention will be from France, with genetics experts providing material on the use of cloning for breeding championship race horses.
Other product launches will include a new mobile weighing machine, a full range of world equine hydrotherapy spas, an oval horse walker and an interactive simulator which imitates real-life racing conditions at most major racecourses throughout the world.
The simulator is the world’s first to address the psychology of racing, providing computer-generated insights into the jockey’s technique and suggestions related to use of the whip and balance.
One of the companies that is expected to display the latest in racing equipment, riding apparel, saddlery and grooming kits at the show is Highline Horse Accessories. The company is one of UAE’s largest distributors of saddle and tack products.
Mohamed Saleh, production manager, Highline Horse Accessories, said: “The DIHF has become an important date in the calendar for local firms, and is a prime opportunity for groups like ours to network with new and existing customers from fields including showrooms, clubs and stables.”
Another company expected to participate is Al Awani, a regional company that offers a complete range of the latest equestrian products, services and techniques.
Al Awani has been participating in the show since the beginning. It’s finance manager Abdul Kareem Feroze said: “Participating in the DIHF is any exhibitor’s dream and definitely a shopper’s paradise as more and more innovative products are being launched at the show each year.”
Talking about the business generated at the show last year and the equestrian industry in general, Abdulla Qassem said: “It is difficult to assess in financial terms the immediate amount of business generated at the fair as buying and breeding horses is a long-term investment.
Another point to consider is that deals and businesses are ongoing through the year as a result of opportunities presented at the exhibition.
“However businesses dealing in the sale of equestrian accessories do see growing figures and contacts annually at the show. The equestrian industry is a growing multi-billion dollar industry, which is especially booming in the UAE as the booming economy allows more and more people to take to horse racing and breeding.”
The expected presence of breeders like Al Faisal Stud, Ajman Stud, Sharjah Racing and Equestrian Centre, Al Naif Stud from Qatar, Cavalry of Oman and the Emirates Horse Breeders Society at the DIHF will showcase regional breeding success and also point to the fact the demand for Arabian horses is now growing and efforts made by regional breeders to reverse the trend of buying horses from international markets is paying off.
Abdulla Qassem said: “Previously, regional horse owners looked to mature international markets to meet all their equine needs. Today however, the increased presence of gold standard farms and breeders like Godolphin are helping to turn the tide.
“The market for Arabian horses and associated products has grown over the years and the evidence is the increasing numbers of buyers attending the show and the sales made each passing year. The presence of world class breeders, premium equipment, top level veterinarians and increased number of local suppliers have also assisted in changing this trend,” said Qaseem.
“Large international equestrian operations also view the fair as a serious opportunity to cultivate long-term relationships with buyers, distributors and breeders for the Arabian horse.
“The Arab world has had a long history of breeding and raising champion horses and its status as a top quality market is exponentially increasing with the rise of developments like the UAE’s iconic new Meydan Racecourse and the prominence of the Dubai World Cup,” said DIHF’s QassemThe DIHF will run until March 22 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.