Extinct and surviving Bahraini strains

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 5th, 2017 in Bahrain

Putting together information from Judi Forbis’ series of articles “Pearls of Great Price” on Bahraini horses as reproduced in Classic Arabian Bloodstock, with information from Dana Al Khalifa’s introduction to her “Living Treasures of Bahrain”, and comparing these with the current strains existing at the Bahraini Royal studs, one can list the Arabian horse strains lost to Bahrain in the course of the last 80 years:

  •  Shuhayban, which is Kuhaylan ibn Waberah (mare gifted to Egypt in 1930s, as reported in Forbis, strain died out before 1970s)
  • Kuhaylan Om Soura (in Forbis, strain died out before Forbis visit in 1970s)
  • Dahman Najib (in Forbis, strain died out before Forbis visit in 1970s)
  • Kuhaylan ‘Ajuz (reported as current in Forbis and Danah, died out before WAHO conference of 1998)
  • Hadban (reported as current in Danah, died out in 1980s)
  • Hadhfan, which is Ubayyan Umm Al-Ardaf (last stallion featured in 1998 catalogue, strain died out in early 2000s)
  • Wadnan (last stallion featured in 1998 catalogue, strain died out in 2000s)
  • Suwaiti (last stallion featured in 1998 catalogue, strain died out of 2000s, replaced with a branch from Saudi Arabia)
  • Krushan (strain died in 1990s or 2000s, replaced with non-asil branch from UK)
  • Dahman Umm Amer (strain died out in either 1980s or 1990s)
  • Dahman Shahwan (last stallion still alive, strain replaced with a branch from Germany)

The ones that survive are:

  • Jallabi
  • Mlolshaan
  • Musannan
  • Shawaf
  • Rabdan
  • Tuwaisan
  • Sa’eedan
  • Kuhaylan al-Aadiyat
  • Kuhaylan Ibn Aafess
  • Kuhaylan Umm Zorayr
  • Ma’naqi (possibly more than one branch surviving)
  • Shuwayman
  • Hamdani (possibly more than one branch)
  • Ubayyan (possibly more than one branch)
  • Saqlawi (possibly more than one branch)

From the 15 that remain, it seemed to me that the Ma’naqis were the most threatened.


Rabdaan Sary Al Leil at Royal Stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on March 5th, 2017 in Bahrain

Rabdaan Sary Al Leil 1090, dark bay stallion, born 1998, by Ma´anaghy 148 out of Rabda Al Wannaan 815

Dhahmaan Hoobeishi at Royal Stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on March 5th, 2017 in Bahrain

Dhahmaan Hoobeishi 1085, dark bay stallion, born 1998, by Kuheilaan Umm Zorayr al Dheleem 407 out of Dhahma Umm Wajnah 821

Kuhaylan Jellabi stallion, Bahrain, 1998

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 4th, 2017 in Bahrain, General

From Kina Murray:

I always find it interesting how much the Bahraini horses, especially the stallions, somehow change when in motion. This is Jellaby Kher, from 1998 WAHO conference visit to Umm Jidr stud.


Kuhaylat al-Aadiyat

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 4th, 2017 in Bahrain, General

One of the main reasons why some strains do not appear in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript is that they had not been formed or named yet. One example is Kuhaylan Hayfi in Northern Arabia, and another is Kuhaylan Al-Aadiyat in Bahrain. The latter strain is peculiar to Bahrain, stemming from a Kuhaylah Ajuz of the Bedouin Shaykhs of the ‘Ajman tribe, gifted to Bahrain at the turn of the XXth century. The story of how it was named is told here.

Note that both Kuhaylat al-Aadiyat and Kuhaylat Umm Surayyir/Zurayr both came to Bahrain from the ‘Ajman tribe of Eastern  Arabia. Lady Anne Blunt already noted the ‘Ajman original provenance of many of the Bahrain strains.


Differences between males and females in Bahraini Arabian horses

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 4th, 2017 in Bahrain, General

Again, elevating this other quote Laszlo relayed from Valerie Noli-Marais’ 1972  article in Arabian Horse News, because it’s very relevant to the discussion about the pronounced male-female difference in Arabian horses, but also to other earlier discussions on dished profiles:

”The stallions are between 14.3 and 16 h.h., very masculine, short-backed and compact, with long powerful necks, with prominent crests, good withers, broad and deep chests, and tremendously powerful quarters. Top-lines are good and tail carriage is truly magnificent. the legs apart from disfigurement by the shackling,are excellent and dry with large flat knees,short pasterns and large strong hooves…

The mares are smaller, 14.2 to 15 hands high, feminine, with finer heads,more to our western taste. Some had quite good dished profiles, although this factor is not mentioned in the traditional standards.

When questioned about the “dish”, it was apparent that this was not sought after or bred for, but happened to be present in some horses. It is tolerated in mares but not in stallions.”..

She certainly knew how to identify and describe the good points in an Arabian horse. Her last sentence, about the dish being tolerated in mares but not in stallions, certainly rings a bell, in the  context of Arabian horse breeding in Syria/Lebanon.

Radwan Shabareq always reminds how not one Alepine breeder ever took his mares to the grey Kuhaylan Khdili stallion which ‘Aqaydat Bedouin Abbud ‘Ali al-‘Amud had sent to Aleppo in the 1980s, despite his hailing from one of the most — if not the most — reputable and esteemed strains of Northern Arabia. Breeders believed his dished head made him “too pretty”, and “like a mare”.

Today, far too often, one really has to peek between the hind legs to be able to tell if some of the modern Arabians are stallions or mares..

Kuheilaan Aladiyat Dami at Royal Stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on March 4th, 2017 in Bahrain, General

Kuheilaan Aladiyat Dami 1587, grey stallion, born 2009, by Hamdaany Wadhah 901 out of Kuheila´t Aladiyat Afeefa 1212

Saqlaawy Al Faisal at Royal Stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on March 4th, 2017 in Bahrain

Saqlaawy Al Faisal 1275, grey stallion, born 2002, by Kuheilaan Aafas Falaah 916 out of Saqlawieh Schmooc 1033

Hamdaany Senafee at Royal stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on March 3rd, 2017 in General

Hamdaany Senafee 1381, bay stallion, born 2005, by Jellaby Nejib 404 out of Hamdanieh Alyatima Roudhah 761

The real Drinker of the Wind

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on March 2nd, 2017 in Bahrain

In a comment on an earlier post, Laszlo reminded us of this quote from Valerie Noli-Marais in an article from a 1972 Arabian Horse News issue about the horses of Bahrain:

“When a Bahrain Arabian horse is taken off its hobbles and proudly bursts into motion, with mane flying, dark kohl ringed eyes flashing, tail straight up like a banner and arching his long neck, it is a sight to bring tears to the eyes of any horse lover – for truly it is he – the real Drinker of the Wind…

The wonderful photos Matthias Oster has been featuring here over the past two days are an illustration of this. So is this photo of Saidan Gharib at the 1998 WAHO conference in Bahrain.

One of the things I loved the most about these Bahraini horses is how different stallions are from closely related mares, often their sisters and their mothers. Just as in wildlife, there is a differentiation between the male and the female, which has almost been erased in the show horse. Bahraini stallions exhibit strong primary masculine features like thicker necks, while mares’ neck are much thinner.

Hamdani Ra´an at Royal Stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on March 2nd, 2017 in Bahrain

Hamdany Ra´an 1294, bay stallion, born 2002, by Jellaby Hataan 945 out of Hamdanieh Khaznah 914, one of my favourite stallions in Bahrain

Jellabi Balsam at Royal Stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on March 1st, 2017 in Bahrain, General

Jellabi Balsam 1169, grey stallion, born 2000, by Kuheilan Aafas Ttaawoos 416 out of Jellabieh Awaali 778

Jellabieh Soroog and offspring at Royal Stud, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on February 28th, 2017 in Bahrain

Jellabie Soroog 1169, bay mare, born 2000, by Mlolshaan Areen 827 out of Jellabieh Al Anoud 889 and her colt Jellaby 1783, bay, born 2016 by Rabdaan Sary Al Leil 1090

Jellabieh Malaha 1548, grey mare, born 2008, by Shawaf al Betaar 953 out of Jellabieh Soroog 1169

Jallabieh Ghabra 1622, grey mare, born 2010, by Shawaf Al Betaar 953 out of Jellabieh Soroog 1169

Jellaby 1704, bay stallion, born 2014, by Shuwaimaan Sadeq 1117 out of Jellabieh Soroog 1169

Mlolesh Samra and offspring in Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on February 26th, 2017 in General

Mlolesh Samra 1020, bay mare, born 1996, by Kuheilaan Umm Zorayr al Dheelem 407 out of Mlolesh Alyatima Radhwah 412 with her filly Mlolesh 1780, black by Jellaby Balsam

Mlolshaan Wesam 1371, bay stallion, born 2004, by Kuheilaan aafas Rakaan 886 out of Mlolesh Samra 1020

Mlolshaan Al Ward 1471, bay stallion, born 2012, by Obeyaan Barakat 1093 out of Mlolesh Samra 1020

Daughters and Granddaughter of Tuwaisah Newaadir, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on February 25th, 2017 in Bahrain

Tuwaisah Zeinat Al Bahrain 1094, bay mare, born 1998, by Kuheilaan Umm Zorayr Al Dheleem 407 out of Tuwaisah Newaadir 859

Tuwaisah Ishtahar 1411, bay mare, born 2005, by Obeyaan al Muheeb 957 out of Tuwaisah Zeinat Al Bahrain 1094


Tuwaisah Yasmin 1522, bay mare, born 2008, by Dahmaan Hoobeishi 1085 out of Tuwaisah Newaadir 859

More photos of the Bahraini horses

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on February 24th, 2017 in General

on the website of Gudrun Waiditschka here.

Tuwaisaan al Jamur

By Matthias Oster

Posted on February 24th, 2017 in Bahrain

Tuwaisaan al Jamur 1613, bay stallion, born 2010, by Obeyaan Barakat 1093 out of Tuwaisah Newaadir 859


And his dam: Tuwaisah Newaadir 859, bay mare, born 1991, by Hamdaany Shaamikh 81 out of Tuwaisah Ttaraayif 758


Obeyyan Shamet at Royal Stables, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on February 23rd, 2017 in Bahrain

Obeyaan Shamet 1335, grey stallion by Kuheilan Aafas Falaah 916 out of Obeyah Karaeb, born 2006


His dam Obeyah Karaeb 1042, bay mare, born 1997 by Jellaby Nejib 404 out of Obeyah Danaanir 808


Musannah mare at Royal Stables, Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on February 22nd, 2017 in Bahrain

Musannah Bint Al Bahrain 1192, grey mare born 2003, by Obeyaan al Muheeb 957 out of Musannah Galaayid 855

Photos of WAHO conference tour to Bahrain

By Matthias Oster

Posted on February 22nd, 2017 in Bahrain

Kuheilah Umm Zorayr Mafkhara 1387, grey mare born 2005 by Hamdany Wadhah 901 out of Kuheilah Umm Zorayr Corrat Al-Ein 798, at the Royal Stables , 12. February 2017

The little known strain of Kuhaylah Umm Surayr

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on February 21st, 2017 in Bahrain, General

I came back from Bahrain with my head swirling with images of desert-bred Arabians, which still look like the way Arabians ought to look like (read: not like China dolls or sea horses or “living art”). One of the strains that survive over there — and nowhere else — is that of Kuhaylah Umm Zorayr, with a precious few mares left at the Royal Stud (below, a yearling from that strain in 1998, second photo credit Kina Murray).

In her “pearls of great price” article series, Judi Forbis mentions the strain in passing among the many strains Bahrain had preserved by the early 1970s, but without elaborating further. There is a bit more information on the website of the Royal Stud, which relates the wonderful story of an old black mare of that strain that was first believed to be way past breeding age, but when put back in training in 1969, produced a daughter that carried the line forward. I thought this was all there was.

Then, while flipping through the Abbas Pasha Manuscript — that bottomless treasure — I came across “the History of Kuhayla om Sareer”, and Her Name is Dahma”, on pages 580 and 581, and it occurred to me that this was the same strain, despite the slightly different spelling. From the testimony of Haizam ibn Hathleen, the leader of the ‘Ajman Bedouins, in the Manuscript:

And the reason for her being called this is that her milk stopped flowing and her foal could not suckle. And they called her Kuhayla om Sareer, because her teats dried up. But otherwise she is Kuhayla ‘Ajuz of the horses of Beni Khaled.”

Some Arabic etymology is in order here. According to the Lesan al-Arab, the reference Arabic dictionary from the XIVth century, the Arabic verb “sarra” as applied to a she-camel, a mare, a goat, etc, means “to fasten its udder”; and a “sirar” is the string used to fasten the udder so that foals, calves, kids, etc, do not suckle. In the same dictionary, XIIth century Arab historian and linguist Ibn al-Athir is quoted as writing that [translation mine] “one Arab custom is to tie up the udder of milk-producing animals [with a string] when sending them to graze, and to undo the string and milk them upon their return in the evening“.

The word “surayyir”, a diminutive, is a small “sirar”, a small string to faster an udder. I believe its use for the strain name of Kuhaylah Umm Surayyir is metaphorical; the mare’s teats had dried up, the milk had stopped flowing, and the foal could not suckle, as if the mare’s udder had been fastened with a small “sirar”, a “surayyir”; hence the strain name, as it should be written and pronounced: Kuhaylah Umm Surayyir, or “Kuhaylah of the small string that ties the udder”.

Accordingly, the spelling “om Sareer” in the English translation of the Abbas Pasha Manuscript is incorrect. The editors seem to have vocalized the word as if it was not a diminutive, “sareer” and its diminutive “surayyir” being written in the same way in the absence of vocalization. The spelling “Umm Zorayr”, as adopted in Bahrain, is closer to the original “surayyir”, and seems to be a local variant, unless it was so transcribed by Dana al-Khalifah, the source of much of the English language materials about Bahraini horses.

Another reason other than etymology for the equivalence of the two strains of “om sareer” and “umm zorayr” has to do with color. The Kuhaylah “om sareer” in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript “was called al Dahma […] because she is sawdah [black]“, and all the horses from the strain were also known as Dahm, according to the Manuscript [Note: not the same as the Dahman strain]. The old matriarch of the Bahraini offshoot of the strain and subject of the story cited above, Kuhaylat Umm Zorayr 186, was also black, as so was her handsome grandson Kuhaylan Umm Zorayr Al-Dheleem 407 (photo below, photo credit Kina Murray in 1998), in a breeding program where black horses are rare.

By the way, and as an aside, the male version of the strain name poses something of a conundrum. One should not write “Umm” (mother) after the male noun Kuhaylan, but rather “Abu”, as in Kuhaylan Abu ‘Arqub, Abu Janub, or Ubayyan Abu Jreyss, etc, but in this specific case, the problem is that male horses obviously don’t have udders to fasten. The right reference to the strain name should therefore be: “Kuhaylan Ibn Umm Surayyir/Zorayr”, or “Kuhaylan son of the mare with the fastened udder”, rather than “Kuhaylan with the fastened udder”. Footnote: There is a similar case with another strain, no doubt for the same reason: [Kuhaylan] Ibn Umm Soura, also in the Abbas Pasha Manuscript. We don’t say Kuhaylan Abu Soura.

A third reason is the mention on the Bahrain Royal Studs website that “the stallions of this strain were much used for stud in the Najd in the mid 19th century”. Indeed, the Abbas Pasha Manuscript section on the Kuhaylah Om Sareer mentions at least two specific instances of using stallions of that strain as breeding stallions, one of these instances by Faysal Ibn Turki for his stud in Najd. Oh, the fascinating stories behind these desert Arabians.

A dedication to the Arabian deity Wadd

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on February 15th, 2017 in Bahrain

This camel statuette is in the British Museum, and came from the Hadramaut area around 1907. It has a short dedication in Sabean to the god Wadd-Ab, “Wadd is the father”. From the 2nd or 1st century BC.

Bahraini stallions in the flesh

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on February 14th, 2017 in Bahrain, General

I finally saw the Arabian horses of Bahrain, those “Pearls of Great Price”, after a 30 year wait. Thanks to Jenny Lees who arranged the private visit to the Stud of the late Sheikh Mohammad Bin Salman Aal Khalifah, we, my father and I, had the privilege of seeing these horses two days before their presentation. In an unforgivable episode of forgetfulness, I only brought my camera phone, the battery of which died after snapping photos of the third stallion. The others are in my head, just like hundred of other horses seen but not photographed.

Most impressive among the horses of the late Sh. Mohammed was a grey Hamdani (no photos). An older Rabdan, a chestnut Sa’eedan, a grey Tuwaisan, a grey Shawafan, and a dark chestnut Radban, many of these sons of the older Radban. The three below were among my favorites: from top to bottom: a very showy ‘yellow Ubayyan; a very balanced and powerful Jellabi; and a more refined, drier speckled Mlolshaan.

One of the first photos of me on a horse

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on January 21st, 2017 in General


This was taken in 1980 or 1981, near the town of Rayak, in the Biqa’ valley of Lebanon.

Rayak, more specifically the village of Hawsh Haala, outside Rayak, was where we put our horses. We had a partnership with the Hindi family over the horses, since the time of my grandfather, Edward Al-Dahdah, in the late 1920s.

The young man holding me is Shafiq Hindi, a longtime family friend, who had taken over the partnership after the passing of his uncle Subhi Hindi. The mare, the mare, was my father’s all-time favorite, Zanoubia (III). A mare of great style, refinement and beauty in her heyday, gazelle-like, from an noble, prestigious and storied origin, and a notoriously difficult producer.

She was born in 1976, by Ash-hal, a Kbayshan, out of Bint Wazzal, by Wazzal, a Ubayyan, out of Su’ad, by al-Jazzar, a Kuhaylan Nawwaq, out of Umm Mash’al, by Ghazwane, a Kuhaylan al-Kharas out of a ‘Ubayyah, by a Saqlawi al-Aama (the blind), out a ‘Ubayyah by a Kuhaylan Nawwaq out of a ‘Ubayyah Sharrakiyah of the Sarraf family of Ba’albek in the Biqa’ valley, who had obtained the strain from Ibn Thamdan of the Sba’ah ‘Anazah.

Another photo of the same mare, ten year after the first photo (ground not level), with another of our mares in the background, a Kuhaylah Nawwaqiyah.

Hijab, Saqlawiyah Jadraniyah ibn Amud

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 30th, 2016 in General

This Syrian mare bred by Basil Jadaan in 1994 was exported to France at a young age. Photo from owner Chantal Chekroun. Hijab met an untimely death, but leaves behind a son, Manjad Maram Al Baida, by Mokhtar, and a daughter Quokriya Al Shatane, both by Mokhtar, another of Basil’s horses imported to France. Mokhtar if still alive would be 30 today.

She was a Saqlawiyah Jadraniyah by strain, from the breeding of Ibn Amud of the Shammar. The pedigree of the maternal grand-dam, here, is incorrect. Marwa’s father was a Saqlawi Jadran and her sire’s dam a Ubayyan Suhayli (branch of Ubayyan Sharrak, originally from the horses of the Sharif of Mecca.

Below, her daughter Quokriya Al Shatane, by Mokhtar. Photo courtesy of breeder Chantal Chekroun.