The Emirate of Qatar – a trip to the largest Arabian horse show in the world
For our grandfathers, a trip to the countries of the Persian Gulf was associated with incredible difficulties and costs, something which was experienced in the 1930s by the well-known breeder Bogdan Ziętarski. The achievements of civilization brought the “Arabian Island” closer to Europe, and here unexpectedly the same civilization pushed the Arabian Peninsula away, introducing Covid-19 into our lives.
Therefore in the “covid” reality, travel in general, and to the Arabian Peninsula in particular, has become a completely new challenge. Nothing is obvious anymore. Having to take the test before departure and waiting for the result is quite an experience for a person who considers himself healthy. The very entry into a country, closed to tourists, which very carefully follows its own procedures related to preventing the spread of the virus, is not easy. Therefore it is an interesting challenge to write a report from the planned with unprecedented care show – the Katara International Arabian Horse Festival (a “Title Show” of the highest ECAHO rank). This experience is certainly different from attending any other show in the world, usually from the position of owner, breeder and now spectator. Having been a participant of Arabian horse shows for many years, I want to carefully and possibly subjectively describe in my letters for polskiearaby.com what cannot be seen online.
The first strong impression is the empty Chopin airport in Warsaw. Only some dozens of people in the departure lounge, which was always bustling with life. It is a reminder of the difficult times we all live in. Likewise, at the landing site, the Doha airport is similarly empty, but here the traveler must submit to the sanitary regime in full force. Before entering the airport zone, you must purchase a SIM card with a local phone number and run a special application, the download of which allowed you to board the plane in Warsaw. The problem with launching the application in Doha is known and no one makes a problem about it. The airport staff is prepared for such situations and comes to the rescue. After a short inspection of the phone, he states with pity that a modern, American-made phone cannot cope and proposes to buy a simple phone with an application that meets the requirements of the traveler’s location. Finally, we manage to launch the application and we realize that until the end of our stay in Qatar, the application will accompany us, controlling our stay for the next days, until we return to our country. Now only the test for Covid-19 and the yellow code indicating quarantine is activated on the application. Due to the necessity of the quarantine, there is a long wait for the code on the application to change from yellow to green, when you can finally leave the hotel.
The realization that it was in Arabia, exactly 90 years ago, that Bogdan Ziętarski appeared with his expedition for original, desert horses for Gumniska and Babolna, makes the stay in Qatar a unique experience for us. It was then that the male lines of Kuhailan Haifi d.b., Kuhailan Afas d.b. and Kuhailan Zaid d.b. joined Polish and world breeding, changing it forever. The realization of following the footsteps of Bogdan Ziętarski’s expedition after all those years, being here at the same time of the year (Ziętarski left Europe on November 20, 1930, and returned to Gumniska on May 12, 1931) is a magical experience. Looking at it from today’s perspective, covering the distance of six thousand kilometers, from Warsaw to the capital of Qatar – Doha, which the plane covers in less than 6 hours, our journey is nothing compared to Ziętarski’s six-month expedition – by trains, ships, cars, camels, on horseback – to the desert, in search of valuable horses. In his reports from the expedition Bogdan Ziętarski described exotic sceneries, analyzed the social and political life, and shared his observations on the rapidly changing world, industrialization and the disappearance of the real Bedouins who bred Arabian horses for hundreds of years.
In his memoirs from his journey through the Nejd Desert, Bogdan Ziętarski described a welcoming reception at the Rualla Tribe and others camping in tents in the desert. The title of his memoirs is “Under the Bedouin Tents”. Therefore we associate the show site, still empty, awaiting the arrival of horses, where the last technical preparations are still underway, as an extraordinary, modern, phenomenally beautiful, maybe even a little theatrical impression, about the Bedouin tent. In front of the huge VIP box (there are probably no other types here), there are anchored historic fishing boats, which, tied with ropes at the shore, surround the show ring. The sails are down, but every boat is flown with the Qatari flag. Against the background of the blue-sapphire sea, it looks extremely harmonious. The luxury and scale of splendor, but also professionalism in the organization of the show, is intertwined with tradition, beauty, culture and honor. Further on you can only see the sea, and the luxurious skyscrapers standing in the distance do not spoil the view. But reminding us that we are in the 21st century and Qatar is one of the richest and most powerful countries in the world. From the booth for the audience, you can see far away a dignified luxury yacht sailing along the bay, and on the right there are small sailboats, catamarans, yachts whose sails shine aggressively in the strong sun and reflect rays in the water.
The design of the arena, the arrangement of the sectors for the public are at such a high aesthetic level that it is difficult to compare it to any other show in the world. The carefully refined in detail concept of the organizer, complemented by decorations based on local patterns, soft silk carpets, designer sofas and, above all, excellent communication – a footbridge has been built above the entrance for horses, which allows you to safely pass between sectors. Everything is in an ecru setting, in combination with gold, beige and brown, modest at first glance, but incredibly tasteful and refined. And this is exactly what should be done when organizing a party in the tent of the desert ruler. This reliance on local tradition enhances the impression of harmony and will be a great setting for Arabian horses competing here in a moment, which, according to the catalog of the show, will be 360 in total.