In honour of International Women’s Day 2023, we are proud to profile six inspiring and empowering women in Emirati equestrianism. Olympians and champions, globally recognised pioneers and rising local stars, they have each shown that women can, and really do, lead the way locally, regionally and around the globe…
Showjumping, Global Equestrian Events, Arabian Showing and Breeding
Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Hazza bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is founder and owner of Al Shiraa’a Farms, plus chairwoman of the HH Fatima bint Mubarak Ladies Sports Academy. As daughter of HH Sheikha Fatima Bint Mubarak, Mother of the Nation, her role is to carry forward the vision of her mother and empower Emirati women.
Al Shira’aa Farms has evolved from a family farm to a multifaceted equestrian enterprise incorporating, breeding programmes, producing top class competitors and hosting global events and shows. The breeding programme includes; sports horses, Grand Prix horses, dressage horses and showing Arabians. In competition, the Al Shira’aa team is currently leading the UK’s Showjumping owner rankings, while the Al Shira’aa events (Al Shira’aa show in Abu Dhabi and Bolesworth in UK) are two of the world’s most anticipated annual equestrian events.
The International Polo Player/Patron and Sports Horse Breeder
Her Highness Sheikha Maitha bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, is daughter of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and patron/player of Team UAE polo. The past year has witnessed her team go from strength to strength winning the Dubai Polo Challenge in 2021 and the coveted Cartier Cup in England earlier in the year.
When she’s not winning the world’s biggest polo tournaments, she’s overseeing Team Z7 based in Zabeel. Established in 2005, Z7 now has over 150 horses globally with 100-plus based in Dubai. The showjumpers compete in partnership with Ireland’s The Breen Team, headed by Shane Breen, while the breeding stock are stabled between Dubai and The Breen Teams HQ in Hickstead, UK.
The jumpers are consistently placed in some of the world’s biggest jumping events and include household names such as: Z7 Ipswich, Z7 Ascot, Z7 Regal Don and Z7 Caretina, while several of the stallions have achieved the impressive approved ‘Elite’ status.
The Olympic Showjumper
Showjumper Sheikha Latifah bint Ahmed bin Juma Al Maktoum is certainly one of the country’s most famous equestrians, and rightly so, being the first UAE woman to represent the UAE in equestrianism at the Olympics.
She has also competed at the 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games plus the 2013 and 2015 Show Jumping World Cup. Daughter of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s sister, Sheikha Hessa bint Rashid Al Maktoum, Sheikha Latifah is today profiled in the world’s glossiest magazines and continues to inspire women around the globe to start their horse riding journey.
The Endurance Rider Beating the Men at Their Own Game
Masa Adnan Tonbakji is the UAE’s leading female Endurance rider. We might only be a couple of months into 2023, yet this impressive Syrian rider has already made this year her own, with a first place in the 119km DIEC Gamilati Endurance Cup for Mares, first in the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Cup for Ladies and second in the CEN 160km HH The President of the United Arab Emirates Cup to name a few.
The International Dressage Star
She’s been the star of UAE dressage for a while now, yet it was in 2022 that Natalie Lankester really set the international dressage world alight with her wins at the CDI Am Prix-St-Georges Class, near Paris, plus two-firsts and a second at the CDI3* in Deauville. Now back in the UAE for the winter season, she competing in the National dressage events in preparation for the Asia Games later this year as well as developing her breeding and training of the DXB horses.
The Pioneering Mounted Police Woman
Dubai’s first mounted police woman, Captain Halima Al Saadi joined the Mounted Police unit in 2021. Halima has been with the police for 24 years and holds a bachelor’s degree in Law from the Dubai Police Academy and a diploma in research and investigation from the General Department of Criminal Investigation.
She told the Khaleej Times, “I’m extremely proud and happy to be part of the Dubai Mounted Police. I’ve always been passionate about equines. Horse riding is an amazing experience, especially when it’s for the sake of enhancing the safety and security of our beloved Emirate.”