Dubai: As an Olympic athlete, bureaucrat and humanitarian, she has received more awards than she can probably remember, but none surely can be as special, and meaningful, as the one she accepted at the seventh annual Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Awards on Thursday.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, was honoured with the highly-acclaimed ‘Local Sports Personality’ award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to equestrian sport.
Befitting the occasion, the audience, which included several Shaikhs and dignitaries from the UAE and Middle East, fittingly gave Princess Haya a standing ovation as she accepted the award from Shaikh Mohammad in the presence of her daughter Shaikha Al Jalila Bint Mohmmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Among her many distinctions as an Olympic show-jumper, two-term President of the Switzerland-based International Equestrian Federation (FEI), a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and an English Derby-winning owner, Princess Haya has campaigned tirelessly as a UN Messenger of Peace.
The milestone award was one of several given out by the Board of Trustees of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Creative Sports Awards at the Dubai World Centre’s Rashid Ballroom.
Princess Haya spared no effort in the modernisation of the FEI during her presidency between 2007-2014. She was a staunch advocate of increased transparency and good governance, and promoted the establishment of an independent and efficient arbitration regime in addition to environmental protection.
Princess Haya is also created with creating the FEI Solidarity programme, designed after a similar Olympic project, to support the global development of equestrian sport. She also helped launch FEI TV to enable the sport reach a broader audience before stepping down in December 2014, after eight excellent and well-spent years at the helm of equestrian sport.
Princess Haya also served on the IOC’s Athletics Commission between 2005-2010 and on the Commission for Culture and Olympic Education. In addition to serving on the Advisory Board of the Economist Global Sports Conference, Princess Haya was also the President of the Dubai Organising Committee for Sportaccord 2010, and in June, 2010, became a global patron for the World Academy of Sport.
Among the many awards that she has received, Princess Haya was honoured at the 2015 Longines Ladies Awards Ceremony, having previously won the prestigious United States Sports Academy’s Eagle Award for 2010. The Eagle Award is presented to a leading sporting figure in recognition of his or her “contributions in promoting international harmony, peace and goodwill through the effective use of sport”.