Over 120 government representatives, veterinarians, equestrian sport and racing experts from across the Middle East, Africa and around the world, embraced the High Health, High Performance Horse (HHP) concept at a three-day Regional Conference for the Middle East and North Africa on the Facilitation of International Competition Horse Movement, which concluded today at The Meydan Hotel in Dubai (UAE).
The objective of the conference, organised by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and officially opened by His Excellency Dr Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water in the United Arab Emirates, was to discuss and identify ways of harmonising existing regulations on the movement of international competition horses in line with OIE standards and the HHP concept.
The conference was facilitated by the FEI, as part of its public-private partnership with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).
FEI 1st Vice President and Chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee, John McEwen, FEI Secretary General, Ingmar De Vos, and FEI Executive Board Member, HE Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa, played leading roles at this conference, chairing and taking part in sessions covering wide-ranging subjects that included biosecurity, regulatory collaboration, import and export requirements for international sport horses and the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2014.
“Equestrian sport, and the horse industry that supports it, is undergoing huge expansion around the globe, and especially in Asia, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa,” said FEI President HRH Princess Haya in her opening address (in full here), delivered on her behalf by HE Sheikh Khalid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa (BRN), Chair of FEI Regional Group VII.
“Across the [Middle East and Africa] region, there has been huge investment in equine facilities for equestrian sport and racing, and with this growth have come job opportunities and tax revenues, as well as a strengthening of the rural economy and its social fabric.
“However, international equestrian sport will not and cannot take place without the temporary importation of High Health, High Performance horses across borders, and this gathering is perhaps the most important meeting on this subject that has ever been held in the region.
I congratulate and thank the OIE and its member countries for taking action and bringing everyone together to find a solution to this very real issue.”
Dr Bernard Vallat, Director General of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) explained the importance of the conference in a video message to delegates.
"Besides developing the HHP concept through discussions at regional conferences like here in Dubai, at other public fora and in the OIE Expert Group, we have also had the opportunity to use a major equestrian event, the Asian Games currently ongoing in Incheon, Korea, to field test some of the HHP principles, particularly the Equine Disease Free Zones, and a waiver to quarantine requirements pre-export and post-arrival.
This has allowed several countries, including emerging partners in equestrian sport such as China and India, to take their horses to Korea directly from home base, rather than from Europe, and most importantly it has increased the number of participating countries by 100% compared to the last Asian Games held in Korea."
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The OIE press release on the Regional Conference for the Middle East and North Africa on the Facilitation of International Competition Horse Movement can be viewed online here.
Photo Caption: Pictured at the three-day regional conference for the Middle East and North Africa on the Facilitation of International Competition Horse Movement, which concluded today in Dubai (UAE) are (from left): John McEwen, FEI 1st Vice-President and Chair of the FEI Veterinary Committee; HE Sheikh Khaled Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa (BRN), FEI Executive Board Member and Chair of FEI Group VII; Dr Monique Eloit, Deputy Director General of the OIE; HE Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahed, Minister of Environment and Water of the United Arab Emirates; Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Aziz Al Shehhi, Board member of Emirates Racing Authority and Dr Ghazi Yehia, OIE Regional Representative for the Middle East. (Photo: Ministry of Environment and Water, United Arab Emirates).