Qatar’s Platinum World Champion stallion Hariry Al Shaqab greeted guests as they arrived for a talk, 'The Arabian Horse: Lore and Legends,' featuring Houstonian and renowned Arabian breeder, Michael Byatt, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science earlier this week.
The event was hosted by the Qatar-America Institute (QAI), an independent cultural and educational nonprofit organisation that facilitates dialogue, research, and exchange between Qatar and the US, according to a statement.
Hariry Al Shaqab also recently visited philanthropist Lynn Wyatt in Houston who was a special guest at the talk. The Platinum World Champion posed with International Best Dressed List Hall of Famer Lynn Wyatt and Rashid bin Abdulla al-Dehaimi, Consul General of Qatar in Houston.
Michael Byatt in conversation with Diana Untermeyer (supplied picture)
Byatt, of Michael Byatt Arabians, is an internationally known Arabian horse breeder and rider who helped develop the incomparable Arabians at Qatar’s Al Shaqab Equestrian Center, which has influenced breeding world-wide. Established in 1992, Al Shaqab has bred seven World Champion stallions, who have flown regularly between Qatar, Europe and the US, living for many years in New Ulm, Texas.
Today, champion offspring of these stallions enhance the pedigrees of Arabian horses around the world. Byatt noted that “Arabians have been the mounts of choice for leaders from Alexander the Great to Napoleon and in America from George Washington to Ronald Reagan. In fact, these versatile horses find favour as sport horses, polo ponies and backyard friends, beloved for their athleticism, beauty and innate sensitivity to human interaction.”
The programme, moderated by Diana Untermeyer, author of 'Qatar: Sand, Sea, and Sky' and cultural advisor to the QAI, is part of QAI’s Expressions Artist Talk series. Expressions is a community event featuring American personalities, artists, and creatives who have lived or worked in Qatar and who have been inspired by Qatari culture. The speakers share their expertise, stories, and perspectives about Qatar followed by an audience Q & A to enhance community and cultural understanding between the two nations. Qatar National Tourism Council provided funding for the Expressions series, which is free and open to the public.
Past Expressions speakers have included: architectural author Phillip Jodidio for a talk centered around contemporary architecture in Qatar; the former chair of the Fashion Design department of Virginia Commonwealth University – Qatar, Sandra Bell Wilkins, for a discussion on the history of fashion in the Middle East; chef and author Anissa Helou who spoke about the history and influences of Middle Eastern cuisine; and novelist Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar whose recent books focus on life in Qatar.
Fatima al-Dosari, QAI’s executive director, said: “QAI conducts cultural exchanges, educational programmes and storytelling forums to foster mutual understanding between communities in the US and Qatar; and the talk on Arabian horses in Houston is the perfect opportunity to display the cultural commonalities and intersections between the American and Qatari people.”
“Both Doha, Qatar, and Houston, Texas, share a thriving equestrian scene that is rooted in each cities’ culture and traditions,” said Diana Untermeyer. “Houston and Qatar interact beyond the petroleum industry with the Arabian horse playing a central role. Many Qatari horses, including three-time world champion Marwan Al Shaqab, have lived in Texas. Artificial insemination allows the sought-after Al Shaqab pedigree to be shared world-wide. Frozen semen is FedExed from Texas to regional breeding centers. In the tradition of royal and diplomat gift-giving, these breedings build ties of friendship between individuals and nations that treasure the Arabian horse.”
Last November, Byatt took Marwan’s son Hariry Al Shaqab into the show ring at the prestigious Salon Du Chevalier de Paris winning the title of World Platinum Champion. Hariry then made the transatlantic flight back to the US in a container specially designed for equine air transport.
“The links between Qatar and Houston also include communities centered around sustainability and sports. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner proclaimed November 19, 2019 as 'Qatar Day in Houston' in appreciation for its support after Hurricane Harvey in 2017. From the $30mn Qatar Harvey Fund -- which supports a variety of Houston area community development projects -- $3.3mn was donated to Harris County to build eight new soccer fields in Precincts 1 and 4 that also will serve as flood mitigation basins. In its growing role as a sports hub in the Mena region and gearing up for its hosting duties for the FIFA World Cup in 2022, Qatar recognises the important role of sports as a global unifier, from horse-riding to soccer,” Untermeyer concluded.