Friday, December 23, 2005

Saudi female rider makes a mark

By Hisham Al Gizouli

23 December 2005

DUBAI ? Alia Alhoaiti, a 25-year-old young Saudi lady, yesterday became the first female rider from her country to take part in international endurance races at the Dubai Endurance City.

Her father, Alhoaiti, who arrived with his daughter from Riyadh last weekend to see her competing for the first time in her life against experienced international riders, was jubilant at her display.

Alia, a graduate of Business Administration from Amman University, came to Dubai under the support and encouragement of the Saudi billionaire and member of the ruling family, Prince Al Waleed bin Talal after receiving the green light from the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

Now Alia is planning to shift part of her operations to the UAE where she can enjoy riding at both endurance and flat races.

?At present, I?m very busy with my job in the Kingdom Holding Company back home, but after bringing some of my horses here, it will be easy for me to enjoy riding during my holidays,? she said.

Regarding the nature of her relations with friends and colleagues in the Kingdom, Alia said everything was very normal.

?They truly appreciate what they describe as a courageous move,? she said. ?We have every right in Saudi Arabia to do what we like so long as it does not contradict our faith and culture.

?I?m a working woman who has completed her higher education abroad without any difficulties or restrictions. We are an open society and you may come and see yourself,? she added.

Speaking about her experience at Seih Assalam, Alia said it was great. ?My horse, Falah Ohood, did a very good job despite being disqualified after Gate Three on Metabolic. I think something happened to him because he was trotting keenly and I didn?t expect any early elimination,? she said.

But her father and trainer Najeeb Al Barjisi accepted the matter, saying that the horse has just arrived from Saudi Arabia and needed more time to acclimatise.

?It was an encouraging start and things will get even better in the upcoming commitments,? Al Barjisi said.

Meanwhile, Alia told her trainer about her intentions to learn riding in flat races. ?My weight is only 54 kilos and have no intentions to put on more weight,? she said with a smile.

Al Barjisi shook his head in agreement pointing out that her length and weight will help a lot.

Alia, a descendant of one of the biggest tribes in Saudi Arabia with a great love and admiration for horse riding since childhood, has come to Dubai with great ambitions to prove her mettle on the international riding scene.

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