RACING AHEAD

Qatar 2020 | SPORTS & TOURISM | INTERVIEW

Established in 1992 to honor the war horses ridden by past Qatari warriors, Al Shaqab is riding into the future by equipping Qatar with future generations of the best-bred horses.

Khalifa Al Attiya
BIOGRAPHY

Khalifa Al Attiya was appointed as executive director of Al Shaqab in May 2016. Prior to this, Al Attiya worked with Al Shaqab Racing for five years, where he rose to the position of general manager. Al Attiya also has over 10 years of extensive experience in the setup and development of high-class equine breeding and training programs. His substantial knowledge also allows him to oversee the strategy, management, and marketing for breeding and sales programs of both Arabian and thoroughbred race horses in the UK, France, Qatar, and the US.

Why was Al Shaqab originally created?
Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani established Al Shaqab in 1992 to honor the war horses ridden by Qatari warriors of the past, and to ensure Arabian horse would continue to play a leading role in the cultural heritage of Qataris. His vision was to increase the number of superior Arabian horses in Qatar, improve the quality of Arabian show horses, and preserve and perpetuate the finest Arabian horse breeds. Since its inception, Al Shaqab has bred seven world champion stallions. What is unique is that we bred three generations of champions, a feat no other breeding farm has achieved.

What races has the Al Shaqab Endurance Team participated in?
Al Shaqab's Endurance Team competes annually in Qatar, the Netherlands, and France. The team participates in endurance races for distances from 80km-160km. In the 2018 FEI World Endurance Championship for Young Horses in Samorin, Slovakia, our riders took second and third place. Endurance racing is one of the fastest-growing FEI international equestrian events and consists of varied terrain through a course in the desert and cross-country. There are mandatory health checks during these races, in which horses must pass a veterinary inspection to continue on to the next checkpoint, including a final inspection at the end of the race to clock an official time. Any horse that does not pass a test in the checkpoint or is considered lame is eliminated from the race.

What are your main events through the year?
We have two major international equestrian competitions that take place every year: CHI AL SHAQAB and Longines Global Champions Tour (LGCT). CHI stands for “Concours Hippique International" or Equestrian International Competition; we only invite FEI's top ranked riders to compete in this world-class competition. LGCT is the world's premiere five-star show jumping event, which spans three continents and takes place in some of the world's great cities including Paris, Monaco, Madrid, New York, Shanghai, and Rome. Meanwhile, in collaboration with the Qatar Equestrian Federation, we are organizing a series of 12 competitions named Hathab, a Qatar equestrian tour to provide opportunities for Qatari youths to develop their horse-riding skills and hone their competitive spirit. Hathab is an initiative of Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, president of the Qatar Olympic Committee that aims to improve the standard of horse riding among Qatari youths while encouraging the involvement of private stables and individual horse owners to grow awareness of horsemanship as part of Qatar's history and tradition.

What is the role of Al Shaqab in preserving and promoting the Arabian breed?
We have a local breeder program that provides studs from our champion stock with the aim of improving the country's quality of the horses, thus allowing local breeding farms to remain productive and relevant in the years to come. This program has been in existence for several years and had over 800 coverings during 2018.

How does Al Shaqab ensure the highest standards in horse welfare?
We are home to a state-of-the art equine hospital, a clinic, and a laboratory, providing unparalleled veterinary care to horses from Qatar and beyond. There is a separate breeding unit comprising 142 air-conditioned stables, ancillary service units, and paddocks for stallions, brood mares, young stock, and foals. Additionally, there are separate stable blocks for the dressage, show jumping, and endurance horses. Al Shaqab also boasts an equine hydrotherapy and exercise unit. Horses are exercised on a horse walker with an integral lunging unit in the center. A swimming pool, equine Jacuzzi, and treadmill also feature in the complex. Our horses are given five-star treatment.

What are the next steps of Al Shaqab in 2020?
Al Shaqab's continued success is a testament to the key role it plays in Qatar, connecting history, culture, sport, business, and the community. We continually build on our achievements over the past 27 years and will continue to nurture equestrian sport while upholding Qatar's equine heritage and tradition.