The grandest stage
- Publication Date:
- 12/03/17 12:15 PM
- CHI AL SHAQAB, Corporate
The thrilling CHI AL SHAQAB 2017 event helped showcase the world-class setting of AL SHAQAB and its inspirational vision for Qatar
The success of CHI (Concours Hippique International, or 'Equestrian International Competition') AL SHAQAB 2017, organized by AL SHAQAB, a member of Qatar Foundation (QF), can be easily measured: 152 riders and 222 horses represented more than 30 countries, watched by thosesat among the world-class facilities of the AL SHAQAB Arena. Yet, as with any prestigious international event shaped by QF member, the spectacle and organization of the competition cannot be reduced to mere numbers.
The event took place from 2-4 March 2017, the year of AL SHAQAB’s 25th anniversary, and saw top-ranking local, regional and international riders compete in Show Jumping CSI 5*and 3*, Dressage CDI 5*, and Para-Dressage CPEDI 3* at AL SHAQAB’s impressive grounds. It is one of only four international annual equestrian competitions in the world to showcase three or more equestrian disciplines in one event.
“This year's CHI AL SHAQAB was the best yet, with both the riders and their horses living up to their world-class status,” Khalifa Al Attiya, President of CHI AL SHAQAB and Executive Director of AL SHAQAB, stated proudly. “All disciplines at CHI AL SHAQAB have provided excellent competition, which is befitting an event that has attracted the world’s top riders for five years.
“CHI AL SHAQAB is an important event for the local community as well, and we were pleased to see so many families enjoying the Festival Area. This year’s CHI AL SHAQAB has truly had something for everyone. Qatar has a strong equestrian heritage, and we are proud to help preserve that important part of our culture.”
CHI AL SHAQAB began in 2013, and is the first equestrian competition of its kind in the Middle East and Asia to be sanctioned by the FEI (Fédération Equestre Internationale or International Equestrian Federation) and one of only four CHI equestrian events in the world. This year’s event took place in front of VIPs, royalty, thousands of spectators, and an international television audience, and the competition showcased the excitement and spirit of peak-level sport, while sharing Qatar’s enduring love for the Arabian horse and its illustrious legacy with the world.
“CHI AL SHAQAB, one of Qatar’s flagship events, provides opportunities for the Qatari community to participate in a variety of cultural and equestrian activities.” said Machaille Al Naimi, President for Community Development, QF.
A welcome venue
These mentioned activities were a highlight of CHI AL SHAQAB 2017, as the QF member sought to ensure that visitors to the world-class venue could enjoy a dedicated ‘Festival Area’ that featured interactive video games, virtual reality sets, Formula 1 and horse simulators, face painters, illusionists, pony rides and a daycare center for toddlers. A range of cultural activities was also on offer, including henna painters, falcon handlers and traditional food to enable visitors to experience true Qatari hospitality.
“Our event is considered a regional benchmark, which pushes us to exceed the expectations of those who visit the event each year,” explained Omar Al Mannai, Event Director, CHI AL SHAQAB. “Aside from offering them the unique experience of AL SHAQAB and its facilities, we seek to invite the world's greatest riders so that they can transfer their skills and enthusiasm to the next generation here in Qatar.
“CHI AL SHAQAB creates an unprecedented dynamic between many stakeholders, including the business, tourism and equine industries, as well as an array of cultural entities. The competition further cements Qatar’s role as a global sporting destination, and we are proud to organize such a prestigious event.”
In partnership with Bedaya Center, AL SHAQAB also enabled more than 20 Qatari entrepreneurs to participate in CHI AL SHAQAB 2017 by offering products and services to the local community during the three days of competition. Start-ups thus were offered dedicated space in the Festival Area aimed at the assembled target audience, such as Qatar-based food vendors and arts and crafts activities.
Mahmoud Al Mahmoud, Entrepreneurship Advisor, Bedaya Center, said of the partnership: “It is a very good platform for Qatari entrepreneurs to be a part of such a big event as it gives them the opportunity to test their products and services and to get feedback from target audiences. Through initiatives such as our partnership with AL SHAQAB, we believe we are helping to develop Qatar’s private sector and the economy.”
CHI AL SHAQAB 2017 was the first international competition organized by AL SHAQAB in 2017, the year of the QF member’s 25th anniversary. The significance of the event’s success in such a momentous year did not go unmentioned by AL SHAQAB’s Event Director.
“AL SHAQAB first started in 1992, at a time when its main objective was to preserve the heritage of the Arabian horse,” Al Mannai told The Foundation. “The Arabian horse breeding program progressed to the point that in 2004 we moved under the umbrella of QF to continue focusing on preserving heritage but also to incorporate educational programs to educate the younger generation about equestrianism, to the level that they could participate within this field.
“To see AL SHAQAB evolve over time has been fascinating. I wished that during my time as a former rider, that such facilities existed. I’m proud to see how much AL SHAQAB has grown, to see its contributions being recognized around the world.”
It is clear that the journey that Omar describes has had a cross-generational impact, and will continue to do so as AL SHAQAB offers inspirational experiences to the current and next generation of riders to represent Qatar.
“When I compete in an event such as this, I can see that the younger members of the audience become very happy, and ask me for autographs and to pose for photographs,” said Sheikh Ali Bin Khalid Al Thani, a Qatari competitor at CHI AL SHAQAB 2017. “I think it’s very exciting for the Qatari youth to see someone from their own country at an international event, so that they feel proud and represented.”
CHI AL SHAQAB Facts
• The 2017 program included three equestrian disciplines spread across three days: Show Jumping CSI 5* and CSI 3*, Dressage CDI 5*, and Para-Dressage CPEDI 3*
• CHI AL SHAQAB is one of four competitions worldwide and the only one of its kind in Asia and the Middle East
• The competition was first organized by AL SHAQAB in 2013, with CHI AL SHAQAB 2017 the fifth edition of the event.