Egypt plans to become an international equestrian hub

Egypt appears to be trying to match experiences of other Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, a pioneer in horse breeding and equestrian activities.

Strong boost. An Egyptian man washes horses on the outskirts of Cairo. (Reuters)

2017/12/10 Issue: 135 Page: 20

The Arab Weekly
Amr Emam

Cairo - Egypt is trying to carve a niche on the Arab eques­trian stage by starting what the government describes as the largest horse farm complex in the Arab Middle East.

The farm would be attached to an international equestrian city that would feature luxury hotels and horse racing arenas as well stables, breeding research facilities, a riding academy and a veterinarian hospi­tal, the government said.

“We have a plan to strongly en­ter the horse-breeding field and turn it into a national activity,” said Hamed Abdel Dayem, a spokesman of the Agriculture Ministry, which will oversee the project. “Egypt has whatever it takes to be an interna­tional hub for equestrian activities.”

The plan to establish the com­plex comes as the country works to diversify its tourist offerings. Another of the new attractions in­cludes reviving the biblical journey of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

The horse farm project has been endorsed by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who has said horse breeding and equestrian ac­tivities can, within a few years, become an important source of na­tional income.

Studies by the Agriculture Min­istry project revenues from the planned equestrian city and horse farm to reach $12 billion a year af­ter the expected completion of the project in 2020.

“We also have an export-oriented horse-breeding plan that will bring in a lot of money, too,” Abdel Day­em said.

The Agriculture Ministry has settled on 6th of October city, a sprawling urban community north-east of Cairo, as the location for the project. It is to be constructed on more than 400 hectares and 472 top-calibre Arabian horses are to be moved to the farm after its comple­tion.

The different parts of the inter­national equestrian city would be interconnected with an aerial lift system to ease movement between sections and give visitors a bird’s-eye view of equestrian activities.

There is enthusiasm for the pro­ject among horse-breeding special­ists who say Egypt has expertise capable of turning horse breeding and development into a viable pro­gramme.

“This project is very long over­due,” said Salah al-Guindy, an ag­ricultural economics professor at Mansoura University. “It will re­flect very positively on the national economy.”

Egypt appears to be trying to match experiences of other Arab countries, including the United Arab Emirates, a pioneer in horse breeding and equestrian activities.

Egypt established its first horse farm in southern Cairo in 1928. The farm was a mecca for the ruling and business elite decades ago but has since fallen into total decay.

Horse breeding and racing would be a strong boost to the tourism sec­tor, said Bassem Halaqa, head of Egypt’s Tour Guides Union.

“By entering this field, Egypt will attract a different category of tour­ists, namely horse lovers. This cate­gory is mainly made up of moneyed tourists who are ready to spend a lot to practise their equestrian hobbies, which translates into good income.”

Halaqa pointed out that Egyptian officials would need to enact laws regarding betting on horse racing because the area is unregulated.

Amr Emam is a Cairo-based journalist. He has contributed to the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and the UN news site IRIN.

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