Abu Dhabi: Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, FEI President and wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, inaugurated the FEI Children's International Jumping Final at the Abu Dhabi Equestrian Club premises at a glittering ceremony on Monday.

According to a Federation press release, 28 jumpers including four from the UAE, are vying for the championship, which is being held in Abu Dhabi for the second time.

Youngsters from Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Germany, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Qatar, South Africa, Russia, Syria and the USA are competing in the four-day event.

The participants, aged 12-14, warmed up after a draw of lots gave them their borrowed horses for the championship.

Princess Haya said in a message that the UAE, along with 50 other member-countries of the FEI, takes pride in creating and participating in various tournaments arranged for those eager to learn, particularly children and youth.

"As the President of the FEI, I am fully confident that these tournaments will continue to evolve and progress over the course of the years, ensuring further development of the sport through successive generations of well-trained riders," said Princess Haya, a former Olympics contestant.

"Horse riding, as a local tradition across much of Arabia, particularly the UAE, continues to preserve the passion and devotion of the nation's ancestors while keeping pace with the progress of the sport in the contemporary world. An essential part of Arabian life, equestrian sport continues to thrive across the UAE, gaining increased international recognition for various achievements that are second-to-none," she added.

Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman, Emirates Equestrian Federation, said the Federation is pleased to host such an esteemed event following the competition's success in 1999-2000. "Such an endeavour also introduces an international audience to Abu Dhabi and the UAE, thus building a bridge between different cultures."

Taleb Daher Al Muhairi, Secretary General, Emirates Equestrian Federation, said it was a moment of great pride for the Emirates Federation to be involved in a competition of such magnitude. "Events like this not only benefit the jumping discipline but also build a competitive spirit at a younger age to reach higher standards," he said.

Alex McLin, FEI Secretary General, applauded the riders.