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Mansour Abulhoul, the UAE Ambassador to the United Kingdom, receives a commemorative plaque from Mirza Al Sayegh at his office in London. Also present were Abdullah Al Ansari, Masoud Saleh and Shareef Al Halwani. Image Credit: Abdullah Khalifa

Dubai: The annual Dubai International Arabian Races (DIAR), which will celebrate its 37th edition at Newbury Racecourse in the United Kingdom on Saturday, was given a diplomatic thumbs-up by Mansoor Abulhoul, the UAE Ambassador to the UK.

Addressing the visiting media at the UAE Embassy in London on Friday, Abulhoul described the event as a “very special” and “much valued” celebration of a sport that strengthens the strong alliance that exists between the UAE and UK.

He praised the role played by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, who created DIAR in 1981 as a platform to promote and grow Purebred Arabian racing in the UK, Europe and across the globe.

“It is such a special weekend coming up,” he said. “ For us at the Embassy it’s an annual event in the calendar that we look forward to.

“Horse racing is a sport very close to the hearts of our leadership who have been involved for decades and it is really important for the relationship between the UK and UAE.

“We thank Sheikh Hamdan for allowing us the opportunity to be involved in this event. It’s a great honour for us as an Embassy to support the International Stakes and to be there.”

“Since the early days when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Hamdan first fell in love with horse racing in Britain their interest has helped spark the sport through their sport and passion,” he said.

“The global racing empires that they have built in horse racing has contributed to the UK and UAE economies and the wider economy, and that’s something we should all take note of. Personally, I love horse racing and so it’s not hard to convince me to go to a horse race and especially not one as special as this (DIAR),” he added.

Sheikh Hamdan was represented at the Embassy by the Director of his Office and Shadwell Chairman, His Excellency Mirza Al Sayegh, who said: “The Embassy has a strong role to play in many ways. One of them is sport, especially at Newbury Racecourse and we are very pleased to have such a good relationship with them. This will mark the start of a new chapter in the relationship between the UAE and Britain and the Embassy has a very strong role to play in that because it gives rise to the involvement of His Excellency The Ambassador in this kind of event and from there to the public in Great Britain.

“On behalf of my committee, and all of us here I would like to say that we are under your disposal and are willing to offer assistance and help in any ways you and The Embassy, may so need,” he added.

Abulhoul, whose mother Isabel had founded Magrudy’s bookshop, the UAE’s treasure trove for books and literature for more than 30 years, summed up the morning by saying: “Sport, and horse racing in particular, is a great way to bring awareness to the relationship between the UAE and the UK and my priority will be to build on what my predecessors in the Embassy have accomplished and to enhance its significance for our two countries.

“Sport is coming through to connect the people of the Emirates and Britain.”

Dubai Race day, as it is popularly called, will feature some of the best racing for Purebred Arabian horses through a glittering eight-race card, which is highlighted by three Group 1 races and five quality support races.