Shamsa Abdul Rahman pets an Arabian horse at the Heritage Village in Al Shindagha. Arabian horses represent one of the ten most popular horse breeds in the world. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon /Gulf News archive

Dubai: Horses have always played an important role in the culture of the UAE as well as all Arab countries. The horse was traditionally seen as symbolic of chivalry, pride and nobility.

Arabian horses were born and lived in the desert and were in daily contact with humans. They are considered one of the oldest and purist horse breeds in the world.

The Arabian horse originated in the Arabian Gulf. With a unique head shape and high tail carriage, the Arabian has the features that make it one of the most effortlessly recognised breeds in the world.

History shows that Arabian horses were spread around the world through war and commerce, and have been used to improve other breeds by adding speed, refinement, endurance and strong bones.

Today, Arabian bloodlines are found in almost every modern breed of riding horse.

Bond with humans

The Arabian was born and evolved in a desert and was prized by the nomadic Bedouin tribes. Historical studies indicate that the Arabian horse was strongly linked to humans. The animal was even brought inside family tents in order to be protected and sheltered.

This close relationship with humans has created a horse that is a fast learner, good-natured and a faithful companion.

The Arabian horses developed the high spirit and alertness that are essential in a horse used for purposes such as war.

Arabian horses played a crucial role in the history of the Middle East when Muslims controlled Spain and opportunity allowed Arabian horses to reach, be recognised, admired and owned by different foreign societies such as those of the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada, continental Europe, Australia and Brazil.

Today Arabian horses compete in various domains of equestrian activity.

They represent one of the ten most popular horse breeds in the world.

Royal stables

Stables in Abu Dhabi were established in 1969 and used as private stables for horses of Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

In 1980, Shaikh Zayed commenced a breeding programme for what Emiratis call "asil" which means "purebred" Arabian horses in his royal stables.

Shaikh Zayed had a genuine attachment to the "asil Arabian horse" and his obvious love is followed by the people of the UAE.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has also inherited the love of horses and has accomplished and recorded a series of international successes in horse racing competitions.

He established the Godolphin stable, named after his favourite Arabian horse, Godolphin, in 1994 and he is also a recipient of the Special Award of Merit at the Cartier Awards in 2008.