hirty years ago the rescue of an Arabian mare led to the foundation of a thriving and constantly evolving Arabian breeding farm at the edge of the desert just outside of Cairo. Sheikh Khaled bin Laden had a great love and respect for the Arabian horse
from an early age but he concentrated on riding and jumping for many years. One day after he had been riding near the Pyramids of Giza, he came across an Arabian mare who had finished her stint at the racetrack and was no longer of use to her owners. She was in a very bad condition due to neglect and lack of feed. “When I saw her she was eating dry grass, not even grain,” Khaled said. “I could not leave her. There was something in her spirit that caught me and so I traded two colts and took her. This was in late 1981. Then I started to look for land on which to build a stable.” And so, Rabab, an Alaa El Din daughter out of Horreya became the foundation mare for Rabab Stud, and the dam of nine foals. Khaled calls her “Wesh El Saad,” the face of goodness and bounty, for she set foot on his new land and brought blessings to the farm.
by Pat Canfield Photos by Erwin Escher
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The 2003 mare Mahala (Al Lahab x Mahasin II), an International Champion.
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The original program centered on EAO lines as well as certain lines that came from Dani El Barbary’s Shams El Asil Farm. Then in 1985, Khaled made two important additions to the mare barn. The first show given at El Zahraa was intended to be the formal presentation of the great stallion Ikhnaton (Farazdac x Bint Om El Saad) to an international audience. Instead, spectators were met with the sad news that the stallion had passed away unexpectedly and tragically during the night.
Facing page: The 2005 mare Wegdan Rabab (Ibn Adaweya x Kout El Koloub). Above: The 1999 mare AM Alia El Nile (Al Kidir x Malisa).
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Above: The 1992 mare Imperial Safama (Ibn Safinaz x Imperial Imwasama). Facing page: Imperial Safama’s 2008 colt L’Amour Rabab sired by Al Lahab.
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As part of a tribute to him, one of his last fillies, Kout El Kouloub, a majestic, typey grey filly out of Ghadir, an Anter daughter, was presented to the crowd. “I saw this ten-month-old filly trot into the ring,” Khaled reminisces, “and I felt that a young queen was coming. I could feel the history of the Arabian horse moving with her … like an empire. She had the most exquisite head I had ever seen. Later in the year, the EAO offered her at an auction. I brought her to the farm with another spectacular moving chestnut filly named Sharbat by Raki, a Tuhotmos son and out of Wasfeya. Sharbat was bought in partnership with Mme. Barbary. Both mares were invaluable to both the breeding program and the joy of the farm.” Kout El Kouloub was Supreme Champion at the first EAO National Show in 1994. Sharbat took the same honors in 1996.
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T h e m a r e Ya s m i n e A l H a n a f y ( K h a l e d S a q r x Safayet Albadeia).
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Throughout the years, Rabab has been a major supporter of the EAO as well as the Breeders Association shows, accumulating a number of championships and class trophies. It is a testament to the dedication and study that are at the core of the breeding program. As with any true breeder, Khaled is constantly refining the breeding program at Rabab. With his university education in fine arts, he views the Arabian horse as a piece of art but not one that is static as an inanimate object or sculpture. To him, the Arabian horse shows its true beauty especially through its spirit and movement, in addition to type and conformation. In order to redefine his horses, he still breeds from his original lines and brings in bloodlines that he believes will achieve the look he desires. The farms of Al Nadiah, Leila, Sultan, and Hadhoud are also under the Rabab umbrella.
Above: The 2008 mare Zinah Rabab (Ezz Ezzain x G Aisha), the 2004 mare Layaly Africa Al Najdiah (Ibn El Basha A x Nawwaret Hamdan A), and the 2006 mare Africa Al Najdiah (Ibn El Basha A x Nawwaret Hamdan A).
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Sheikh Khaled still believes strongly that the EAO horses are the originals; the essence of pure straight Egyptians, and he will always treasure them at his farm. To his thinking, they are the main column that supports the rest. He says, “Without them, you cannot make the essence.” His two prized mares, Kout El Kouloub and Sharbat, had some excellent foals and their blood is still strong in succeeding generations. He is bringing in some stallions and mares from abroad that he believes will add even more type and movement to the original blood. He has been seriously learning from pedigrees for over 10 years and his study of how certain combinations bring a particular result strongly factors into breeding decisions. Sheikh Khaled believes that some of the pedigrees that are said to be questionable are in fact merely marketing ploys for some people with a specific agenda. If he can find no real evidence of problems he will use the horse in question. He has said that occasionally errors may arise because of two horses with the same name or two similar names with different spelling. He makes reference to an old Bedouin saying, “If a great sire and mare give an average foal, keep it. The blood is there and it very well may produce something outstanding. If an average sire and dam give a great foal, do not keep it. It has come by chance and is not dependable.”
Above: The 2007 mare PSE Jamilla (Imperial Kamill x Imperial Bushra), with her filly Amora Rabab by GR Bashir
Classic Shadwan. Facing page: The 2002 mare Nelly Ghabour (Watef x Azamah). 10 ▪ RABAB STUD ▪ WORLD
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One of the keys to his selection is thorough study of the dam and the grandam. When he looks at a pedigree, he says, “I must know who they are and what they have produced. This tells me what is possible in the horse I am looking at and what I can hope to breed from them.” In his stallions, Khaled looks for a horse that is obviously masculine and well built with the conformation and muscle that is required for the Arabian movement. He believes that people do not see the true Arabian horse if it is merely standing in the stall. When he first saw Ibn Adaweya (Akhtal x Adaweya), Khaled felt that this would be the stallion he would want as a warhorse. “I saw a vision that came from a 19th-century painting. He was strong and serious,” he adds. “This is a horse that never plays.
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“You have to see an Arabian horse moving with pride and elegance,” he says, “It has to snort and trumpet with the tail flowing and flying over the ground, catching the wind. Then you are seeing what you should see.” He also expects his horses to be well mannered and of course, they must produce well. A great majority of his horses are of the Obeyan strain primarily because of their strong movement. During recent years, a major focus of the breeding program has been to put some Polish blood with the straight Egyptian, primarily for the showring.
Facing page: The 2007 mare Leila Rabab (Bouznika x Hababa Hamdan A). Below: The 2007 mare Fardoos Nafida Ghazal (NK Hafid Jamil x Fardoos Nashallah), with her colt Mishmish Rabab by Romeo Al Amaar.
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Sheikh Khaled is a firm believer that the Arabian horse needs to be as close to its original desert environment as possible. He built his farm at the foot of flowing sand dunes on the edge of the desert between the Great Pyramids of Giza and the southern pyramids of Abu Sir and Saqqara. He believes that when horses come to his farm, even from other locations in Egypt, they seem to change and pull in the essence of the desert to their persona and even conformation. They become more ‘Arab.’
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The farm is built with an Arabic look to the stables with stucco walls, domes, arches, courtyards, and open stabling within the barns. There is an organic feel to the design and layout of the stables and paddocks, most of which border on the desert. Khaled’s love of plants is reflected in the large expanse dedicated to cacti and local flora and palms, all of which are sold as decorative elements to commercial properties all over Egypt from Alexandria to the Red Sea resorts.
Khaled’s love of plants is reflected in the large expanse dedicated to cacti and local flora and palms.
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Sheikh Khaled also points out that in the last five years, Egypt has made major imports from Germany, the UAE, and the U.S. “The results are becoming apparent as there were 70 fillies entered in the last Breeders Show and possibly only 10 were not special,” he says. “Surely many more champions will surface from these imports.”
Facing page, bottom: Rabab Stud stables and courtyard. Top right: Sheikh Khaled bin Laden very much enjoys the flavor of the showring and has done extensive additions to his original showjumping facilities at Rabab in an effort to provide a venue for competitive events. Accommodations for visitors, proper lighting for night shows, as well as a good stabling area are all factored into t h e f a c i l i t y, w h i c h h a s r e c e n t l y hosted the Breeders Association national shows as well as Dancing Horse competitions. Last Spring Sheikh Khaled hosted the First Rabab Championship on the grounds. The Breeders Association shows are also held at Rabab Farm. Sheikh Khaled (center) is pictured here with the Rabab show judges, from left Renata Schibler, Karin McCrea, Anna Stojanowska, Jaroslav Lacina, Fausto Scanzi, and Dr. Abdelouahed Maagoul. Middle right: Sheikh Khaled with Dani E l B a r b a r y, w h o s e S h a m s E l A s i l F a r m was an important influence on Rabab Studs breeding. Bottom right: Sheikh Khaled also breeds miniature horses.
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One of the international stars of the Rabab program is Mahala, the exquisite Al Lahab daughter out of Mahasin II. She had an extensive string of championships in Europe, including Best Straight Egyptian in Paris in 2009. After returning to Cairo, she was Champion Mare at the EAO Internationals in 2009. She epitomizes the new approach at Rabab, having produced three foals by three different major international stallions. Her first foal, a black colt, was by Al Lahab, her second, a filly by Marwan Al Shaqab, and her current foal, Dalia, an extraordinary filly by GR Maarif (GR Faleeh x Maria Halima).
Above: The 2007 colt Amori Rabab (Al Lahab x Mahala). Left: The 2010 filly Louloah Rabab (Marwan Al Shaqab x Mahala).
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The Imperial Imdal line is well represented in Khaled’s collection. “Imdal was the epitome of an Egyptian stallion, and I have brought a lot of Al Lahab blood into the breeding program to try to build on that look,” he says. In addition to Mahala and her colt, Amori RB, Rabab is home to four other get of Al Lahab. The mare F Liya 2003 out of F Aisha, an Alidaar daughter, is becoming one of the best producers at the farm along with her full sister Dananeer RB 2007. L’Amour RB 2008 is another son of Al Lahab out of Imperial Safama, a wonderful classic flea-bitten mare by Ibn Safinaz. Completing the Al Lahab blood to date is GR Lahari 2005 out of GR Marianah. Lahari was most recently the Bronze Senior Stallion at the EAO International Show in 2009 after accumulating a number of Junior championships.
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Facing page: Mahala and her 2011 filly Dalia Rabab by GR Maarif, bottom, and pictured in the top photo with Sheikh Khaled. Above: Mahala and Dalia Rabab. Right: Sheikh Khaled with Mahala and some of the Rabab trophies.
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Another important stallion line in the breeding program is that of Imperial Madori (Imperial Madheen x Imperial Orianah). He sired a number of champions at Rabab including the dramatic Kenz Noor, out of Naksh El Koloob Noor. He was the Senior Stallion Champion at the EAO Nationals in 2010 having recently returned to Cairo after a successful show career in the U.S. and Europe. Another of Madori’s get in the Rabab program is Ibn Arabia Saqr who in turn sired Anbar Noor (x Hams El Koloob Noor). Anbar Noor was threetime Reserve Champion Filly and 2010 Bronze Senior Mare at the EAO Nationals. She had a colt, Anter RB, in 2009 by GR Maarif, an exceptional black stallion with movement that stops people cold in their tracks. He is becoming a major sire at the farm. Another Madori son who was used quite a bit was El Basha Saqr out of Alidarra (Alidaar x Glorieta Serima).
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Facing page: The 2000 stallion Kenz Noor (Imperial Madori x Naksh El Koloob Noor). Right: Sheikh Khaled with the 1999 stallion Bouznika (Imperial Mashhar x Mayyat). Below: Bouznika enjoying the desert just outside Rabab Stud.
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A group of imported mares has been added to the Rabab program. They include WH El Shain 2002, one of fourteen Adnan daughters who recently came from the U.S. Another new mare is PSE Jamilla 2007 (Imperial Kamill x Imperial Bushraa), who joins Imperial Safama at the farm. A recent addition from Germany is Sahiy Saemah (Sheikh El Araby x Saemah) with three lines to Madkour I.
Above: The stallion GR Maarif (GR Faleeh x Maria Halima). Left: The 2011 colt Adham Rabab (GR Marrif x Layaly Rabab).
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Right: The 2005 stallion GR Lahari (Al Lahab x GR Marianah). Below: The 2011 filly Looza Rabab ( G R L a h a r i x Ya s m i n e Al Hanafy).
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They join an established group of mares at the farm who are all show winners both at the EAO and the Breeders Association shows. Some of the well-known senior mares are: F Aisha (Alidaar x Flaby Shaminet); Am Alia El Nile (Al Kidir x Malisa); Anbar Noor (Ibn Arabia Saqr x Hams El Koloub Noor); G Ashlima (AK Sirhalima x Asham Sharafa); Layaly Al Najdiah x Nawwaret Hamdan A); Nelly Ghabour (Watef x Azamah); and Yasmine Al Hanafy (Khaled Saqr x Safayet Albadeia).
Above: The 2007 stallion Soleiman Rabab (Al Fateh SEA x Kamar Noor). Facing page: The stallion GR Bashir (Classic Shadwan x Bindji).
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Sheikh Khaled’s great love for the Arabian horse extends to the traditional dancing horse, which is an enthusiasm he shares with his son, Salem. Salem is an accomplished rider and has won many championships at national Dancing Horse competitions in addition to performing at a number of European shows. He is also very involved with his father in the breeding program at the farm.
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Facing page, top: Sheikh Khaled’s son Salem who is also involved with the breeding program at Rabab Stud and has a great enthusiasm for the traditional dancing horse. Facing page, bottom: The 2008 stallion Shah Sultan (MB Zekheil x Halim Shah 1-3). Right: The 2006 stallion Romeo Al Amaar (Amaar Al Rayyan x Imperial Maysama). Below: The 2011 colt Mishmish Rabab (Romeo Al Amaar x Fardoos Nafida Ghazal).
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Sheikh Khaled’s own words reflect the very special place that the Arabian horse holds in his world. “When I think of an Arabian horse, I visualize a living, moving tableau. I see the living heritage of the Arab people. Sometimes I think of the brutal world of the desert with little water, little food, and almost no shelter. And yet, this magnificent creature of God was able to survive and even flourish. One must look at them and wonder from where the horse has the spirit and the will to survive and also has the intelligence and the character to mean so much to the history of the Arab peoples. Every day, I give thanks to God that I am here to enjoy and love this gift from him.” Below: The 2010 colt R a w a f e d A l Ta w f e e k ( S h a h e e r A l Ta w f e e k x Fadia Gawdat).
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Top: The 2011 filly Simsima Rabab (Ansata Nile Echo x WH El Shain [Adnan]). 2011 colts sired by Jamil Al Rayyan: Bondoq Rabab (x Aziza Al Khalediah), bottom left, and Bashboush Rabab (x Bint El Basha), bottom right.
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Salem bin Laden on one of his dancing stallions.
Rabab Stud SAQQARA ROAD, SHABRAMANT EL REGHA, GIZA, EGYPT TEL: +(2) 0233811133 FA X : + ( 2 ) 0 2 3 3 3 8 2 3 0 6 OWNER: MOBILE +(2) 010 5502222 MANAGER: MOBILE +(2) 010 0552222 EMAIL: SBINLADIN@GMAIL.COM
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