MarketWatch: Saudi Arabia

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MARKETWATCH b y Jeff Sloan

Arabian Horse World’s new “MarketWatch” feature is intended to keep our Arabian horse community apprised of market dynamics and conditions that are relevant to our interests, whether as breeders, trainers, or breed service providers. In this feature, it is our intention to research and report on interesting sales and related transactions that can provide insights into our breed’s market conditions as well as to provide valuable pricing benchmarks.

One of the Participation interesting and interest in aspects of being Arabian horses in the Arabian has been very horse business is strong and that it is a global growing steadily business. This in Saudi for many benefits years. It seems to participants not me that there has only with been a shift away opportunities to from the large travel to exotic royal stables places but also dominating the with a broader scene here to marketplace more small but that is not serious breeders. dependent Very recently, Muteb Saad with BADAWIA AL MUAWD (Emerald J X Mistill Al Muawd). solely on the U.S. there has been market. And so in an influx of this issue we turn our attention to the Arabian younger, passionate enthusiasts of both genders who horse market in Saudi Arabia with help of Muteb are eager to learn. It’s an exciting time to be young and Saad and Montana Henke, who are deeply looking to the future in this country and that seems to embedded in the Arabian horse business in Saudi. be translating to the horse industry as well. Scottsdale residents Montana and husband Muteb What types of horses are most appealing to the spend the winters/show season in Riyadh, Saudi market in Saudi, and what is average price range? Arabia, where Muteb owns the largest professional The Middle East has a long tradition of being a training center here, with three on-staff trainers meeting place and historic center of trade in the world, and a premier facility boasting over 80 stalls, a veritable mixing pot where East meets West. This Prestige Training Center. We spoke with Montana holds true for the Arabian horse business in the recently to give us a better perspective on the modern day as well, where for the past several current status of the Arabian horse market in decades, breeders here in the Gulf states (UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia. Saudi, and Kuwait) have imported horses from both the Americas and Europe and mixed them together in The Arabian horse market in Saudi is one of the unprecedented numbers since perhaps the mass fastest growing for Arabian horse purchases and imports of Polish horses were added to the early sales. Do you get the sense that the market is just American foundation lines. This has resulted in a very beginning or at its peak?

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// exciting horse, one with the best attributes that both respective continents are known for and that is quickly approaching the ideal Arabian breed standard, with form to function, structure, and beauty in spades. There are, of course, different ranges in quality and naturally this affects the price range, but overall the type of horse that is popular here is a very international, very balanced horse. Tell us about the show scene – are numbers of shows and participation strong? In the gulf, and particularly in Saudi, there are new shows popping up all the time. The large number and variety of shows is excellent, from local C National shows all the way up to prestigious title shows with hundreds of thousands in prize money, the Middle East has it all. In Saudi, the shows are energized and exciting, with crowd participation high and a charged atmosphere. Even the smallest shows have large turnouts with hundreds of entries and good prizes (one of our own yearling fillies won two cars at the same show last year). Most of the shows are also set up as festivals, with local artisan vendors, trendy pop-up restaurants and coffee shops, children’s areas etc., so they draw more than just the horse owners and are fun for extended families to attend as well. I do believe that the shows here have a big impact on the rapid growth of the industry here. What is driving the accelerating market interest and growth? There are so many factors. The shows here do have an impact. There are levels for all

participants. The competition is also very strong, the quality of horses winning medals, even at small shows, is very good, and this encourages breeders and owners to strive for more and look for ways to improve their herds. The feeling in the whole country is one of excitement for the future. Every week, every month, there is more growth, opportunities, new and exciting things happening, there is a feeling that things are better and better, and this is definitely influencing the horse market. What is the level of interest in ridden classes at the Saudi shows? Riding is one of the most beloved activities in Saudi Arabia. Endurance, racing (with Arabians as well as Thoroughbreds), and jumping (particularly among women) are all extremely popular. Most halter horse owners also have several purebred recreational riding horses at their stables. That said, I don’t think that ring classes like we have in the U.S. would be possible here at this time. While the horses certainly have the breeding and ability, there are no performance trainers here and not even a general knowledge that Arabians compete in disciplines like western or hunter, for example. One new sport here that has been catching on is “Marathons” – these are short races out in the desert over varied terrain. Imagine something like the desert race that Alec takes The Black on in the movie “The Black Stallion Returns.” I heard that a WH Justice daughter won one recently. So while the riding tradition is strong, it is more in keeping with what the horses were originally doing here – racing

freely through the desert, tails flying in the wind. Are most of the horses being purchased bred now Saudi-bred or are they sourced from outside? If so where? In the not-so-distant past, almost all of the horses here were sourced from outside, primarily the Americas and Europe with perhaps a few from Egypt, Australia, etc. Now, there are many imported horses here that local buyers have access too, as well as their offspring, many of which are of such high quality that they have won several medals in shows, such as the World Championship in Paris. So, while horses are definitely still being imported from overseas in good numbers, there is now a larger local market of high quality horses. I believe that in the near future, the large numbers of good horses being bred here will be a wellspring for American breeders looking to bring in new stock. The breeders here in the Gulf, in this ancient place where our beloved horses originally hail, are contributing to a very exciting future for all of us in the Arabian horse world with their commitment and enthusiasm.

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