World Arabian Horse Racing Conference, May 4-6, 2017, Marrakesh, Morocco – Festival propels growth of Purebred Arabian racing.
 
Experts were highly optimistic that the future of Arabian Racing was bright and agreed that much credit for the revival of Arabian horse racing in the recent years was mainly propelled by the efforts of the HH Sheikh Mansoor Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Global Arabian Horse Flat Racing Festival. 
 
The panelists on the final session ‘Future of Arabian Racing’’ were Ms. Lara Sawaya, Executive Director of the Festival, Sami Al Boueinen, President of the International Federation of Arabian Horse Racing Authorities (IFAHR), Dr. Abdullah Al Raisi, Director General of the National Archives, Mubarak Al Nuaimi, Director of External Promotion of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority; Boutros Boutros -Emirates airline Vice President of Regional Communications, Marketing and Branding, Edward Hamod of National Feed and Flour Production and Marketing Co. LLC and Omar Skalli of SOREC, Morocco, with renowned British race commentator Derek Thompson moderating.
 

“The fact that 86 countries are represented among those in this gathering is proof of the current status that Purebred Arabian racing is enjoying,” said Ms Sawaya. “We are aiming at getting more of Asia involved next year and that will add to the tremendous progress Arabian racing has made,” she said while announcing more additions to the activities of the Festival.
 
Boutros said the Festival’s push had made Arabian horse racing one of the fastest-growing sports and urged the racing fraternity to benefit from the opportunities being provided by the Festival.
 

Hamod said supporting the Festival and Arabian racing was value for money while Al Raisi said it was time for strategic and long-term goals to be set for Arabian racing. IFAHR chief Al Boueinen said his vision included finding solutions to problems like movement of horses and lesser paperwork in import-export of horses among others.
 
TCA’s Al Nuaimi said it was all about putting Abu Dhabi and UAE on the world map while promoting Arabian horses while Morocco’s Skalli added that among the challenges he faced were to draw more people to racecourses; ensure there was entertainment and enough to do between races during meetings.
 
 
On Friday morning, Derek Thompson moderated the panel on Social Media, PR & Communications which comprised John Cobb (UK), Jean-Claude Alles (France), Isra Al-Shammari (Iraq), Essam Al Sayed (Sudan), Victoria Shaw (Australia), Mondher Zoueiten (Tunisia) and Mats Genberg (Sweden).
 
The speakers agreed on the importance of social media after highlighting the great benefits in the rapid dissemination of information and said this will help in creating a large base of fans for Arabian horses and their races. 
 
Genberg said it was all about getting followers, reaching people and having a dialogue and added that Social Media gave one the opportunity to hear clients, audiences.
 
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Cobb said Racing Post was geared up for instant messages, sending push messages and advocated the need to ignore insults on Social Media. Issam highlighted the benefits of focused coverage of Arabian horse racing while Jean-Claude showed a clip of proposed racing coverage which provided more information while the race was being run. Isra of Yas TV said Social Media was a fantastic opportunity to reach huge audiences as long as the content was made interesting while veteran Zoueiten said that keeping pace with changing times had helped him get a readership of over 30,000 through the use of net coverage.
 
Briton Philip Brennan handled the session on Rules, Conditions & Regulations with Canadian Neil Abraham, Frenchman Yves Blantin, Belgian Nelly Phillipot, the UAE national Ahmed Saeed Al Marzouki, American Susan Meyer, Moroccan Hicham Debbagh and South African Ian Patterson in the panel.
 
 
The main focus of the participants was on the harmonization of rules, mainly those governing the import and export of horses, movement of horses, handicapping systems and whip rules. The Festival made a big move with Ms Sawaya announcing that from later this year the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Cup races in the US will restrict entries to lasix free horses. (Lasix or Salix, an anti-bleeding medication is the principal drug that differentiates the US medication regime from other major racing jurisdictions where race-day medications are banned.) The Festival also decided to form a body to frame conditions and rules which will only govern the Festival’s races and this could help connections overcome difficult conditions imposed by host countries.
 
Panelists felt educating government authorities on the huge impact of horse racing would go a long way in enabling them to formulate rules that make it easier to move horses from one country to another.
 
Australia’s only female race caller Victoria Shaw moderated the session on ‘Women in Racing’ with the panel members being Ms Lara Sawaya, Mouna Benjelloun (Morocco), Rene Koch (France), Stephanie Corum (US), Lojaim Omran (Saudi Arabia), Elizabeth Bernard (France), Debbie Burton (UK) and Moza Al Mansoori (UAE).
 
The panelists revealed the challenges they faced in their respective fields and how they converted them into opportunities and then succeeded. Despite racing being dominated by men, the ladies said they were making inroads into the sport and felt more success in fields of owning, training and racing as jockeys had come their way in recent times. 
After seven sessions the Workshop brought the curtain down on the WAHRC 2017. 
 
Article reproduced with thanks to Sheikh Mansoor Festival