We arrive in the emirate of Ajman to find that the prestigious Arabian Horse Show has just ended. However, Doaa, our friend at the Kempinski Hotel Ajman, tells us she knows the director of Ajman Stud, the stables of Ajman’s Crown Prince Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, and that she will try to arrange a visit for us.
The next day we head off into the desert to visit the stud farm, which is a green oasis in the midst of endless sand dunes. Arabian horses are reputed to be the most beautiful in the world and so we are excited to see Ajman’s collection of prizewinning steeds.
Upon arrival, general manager Khalid welcomes us with a traditional coffee ceremony and tells us about Arabian horses. “Arabian horses have for centuries been bred for their strength, endurance, speed and beauty,” he says. “They are generally very good-natured creatures, partly because they have lived close to humans for so long.” He explains that the Bedouins of the Arabian Peninsula often shared their food and water with the horses and even allowed them to take shelter in their tents, so that the animals developed a gentle temperament. “But they also have a reputation for being ‘hot-blooded’ so you have to watch out – they have strong personalities!” he adds with a smile.
As he shows us around the grounds, Khalid proudly tells us that historical figures such as Napoleon, Alexander the Great, George Washington and the Prophet Mohammed all rode Arabians. “The Prophet Mohammed once said that God had created the Arabian, and that those who treated the horse well would be rewarded in the afterlife,” he says.
Meanwhile we have arrived in the stables, which look like a five-star horse hotel: spacious boxes with views of the desert and a vegetable garden where they grow carrots, lettuce and alfalfa for the horses. Ajman Stud has more than 70 horses, including numerous international prizewinners. Escape, the white stallion featured on the right page, was one of the stars of the recent horse show. Now that we see them with our own eyes, we understand why they say Arabian horses are a divine creation. They are proud, beautiful and elegant creatures.
After our tour of the grounds Khalid shows us the trophy cabinet – though ‘cabinet’ is perhaps not the right word as the collection of cups, medals, ribbons and wreaths takes up three entire rooms. Sheikh Ammar’s passion for Arabian horses is clearly paying off…