GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Amateurs and breeders of purebred Arabian horses in the Gaza Strip participated in Al-Yaser Arabian Horse Beauty Festival, held at Al-Jawad Equestrian Club in Gaza City Nov. 11.
They showcased the beauty of purebred Arabian horses, including 15 rare breeds such as Saqlawiya, Makhladiya, Djelfa, Al-Abiya, Al-Manqiyah and Al-Kahila.
During the festival, which coincided with the 18th anniversary of the death of former Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, pictures of the late president were displayed and popular and patriotic songs played, in the presence of a large number of spectators.
The first beauty contest for purebred Arabian horses in the Palestinian territories was held in Jericho, in the eastern West Bank, in 2014 after the World Arabian Horse Organization recognized the Palestinian Equestrian Federation. The competition back then saw the participation of 150 horses, and was supervised by judges from Austria and Switzerland.
Mohammed Enaim, head of the Purebred Arabian Horses Committee in Palestine, which organized the festival in Gaza City, told Al-Monitor, “The festival participants showcased the beauty of purebred Arabian horses, which were registered with the European Conference of Arab Horse Organization [ECAHO] and bear well-known lineages. The beauty of horses is judged based on several criteria, including the beauty of the head and neck, and the size of the nose, movement and activity.”
He said, “The horses participating in the contest were divided into three categories. The first was for horses that have obtained the ECAHO certificate and are registered with the Israel Arab Horse Society. The second was for horses of well-known lineages that were not registered with the Israel Arab Horse Society. The third was for half-bred horses with one purebred parent.”
Enaim noted, “Only three such festivals have been held in the Gaza Strip. Purebred Arabian horses with an ECAHO certificate are worth over $15,000 each, and the majority are imported from Israel or the West Bank.”
He added, “The Gaza Strip only has about 10 purebred Arabian horses that have obtained an ECAHO certificate, and there are a few that have not been registered, while others have died after being severely injured by shrapnel from Israeli shells targeting nearby places, or as a result of various diseases.”
Enaim stressed, “One of the most prominent obstacles facing purebred Arabian horse breeders in Gaza is their inability to register locally-bred horses with the ECAHO, as well as their inability to participate in international competitions or those that are held in the West Bank as a result of Israeli restrictions.”
In 2021, a Palestinian purebred Arabian horse won the title of "world beauty horse" during the Arabian Horse World Championship held in Paris, in which an elite of the most beautiful horses around the world participated.
Mahmoud al-Maqadmeh, a participant at the festival who owns a purebred Arabian horse, told Al-Monitor, “The festival aims to strengthen the status of Arabian horses in Gazan society, which we need to shed light on by holding many competitions and tournaments, whether in endurance and barrier races or beauty contests.”
He said, “Purebred Arabian horses are distinguished by their high prices due to the beauty of their bodies as well as their longevity and well-known lineages. Several are imported from abroad, in addition to some locally-bred horses in Gaza.”
Maqadmeh concluded, “The Israeli blockade is one of the main reasons obstructing the import of purebred Arabian horses, due to the exorbitant costs that are imposed for import, as well as the taxes imposed on their medications and food. We need to regularly provide vaccinations to maintain their health and avoid exposure to dangerous diseases.”