Threats facing the Desert Arabian horse in its original homeland

By Edouard Aldahdah

Posted on December 9th, 2012 in General

I am stuck in the Frankfurt airport on my way to Cairo (again) because of a snowstorm, and was reading this future studies article on what the Middle East will be looking like fifty years from now.  The scenarios outlined are quite grim. Most of them involve a combination of large-scale and extended droughts, environmental degradation (salinity and rapid urbanization are rapidly killing the Nile Delta), water shortages (San’aa, the capital of Yemen will be the first city in the world to completely run out of water by 2020– that’s in 7 years), water wars, demographic explosion, urban unrest in sprawling slums, large scale unemployment, violence, etc.

This brings me to the subject of the survival of the Desert Arabian horse in its original homeland, which is seriously threatened. It reinforces my belief that the valuable genetic material still available in the Middle East will need to find its way to more stable parts of the world (like the USA or Canada, because I just don’t see Western Europe on a path of long term stability) where it can be preserved for generations to come. I am not talking about the high-end, overbred, delicate Egyptian Arabian horse creatures that grace Egyptian and Gulf studs; the blood of Nazeer, Moniet, Bukra, etc, is all over the world, and it’s not exactly threatened with extinction. If these Egyptian lines are to become extinct, it would be because their narrow genetic base would have caused so much degeneresence to the breed that it’s no longer viable. Rather I am talking about native bloodlines from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and whatever is left of the Syrian breeding by the end of the conflict there, not much problably. These are bloodlines and strains not found anywhere else in the Arabian horse population (e.g., Kuhaylan Umm Zoayr, Kuhaylan al-Adiat, Mlolshaan and Tuwayssan in Bahrain; Kuhaylan al-Armush, Kuhaylan al-Hablani, Rishan and Saadan in Syria; Kuhaylan Shunaynan in Saudi Arabia, and others). I am determined to play my part in this long term rescue effort, and just waiting for things to settle down in Syria a bit, before acting.

By the way, the English translation of an Arabic book on the Arabian horses of Iraq is just out, and falsely claims that the racing-related lines there are asil, which is far from the truth. Most of the Iraqi lines are contaminated with the blood of the English Thoroughbred stallion Tabib, who went from Cyprus to Bagdad via Beirut ,and eventually reached the racetracks of Lebanon, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Such falsehoods and revisionnism may need a new book to refute, and I am determined to do this, too.

7 Responses to “Threats facing the Desert Arabian horse in its original homeland”

  1. This is an important post, but scenarios that a number of us have been chewing our fingernails over for some time. Keep safe.

  2. Edouard you are correct to be concerned about what political instability is going to do to cradle country asils and to call out the non asil breeding that is falsely claiming to be asil. The momentary advantages of winning a few races with what are essentially abglo arabians will quickly turn to dust. It is not the anglos that dominate the 100 mile endurance rides it is the purebreds, and the closer to asil- like the cmks are, it seems the better they do. The idea of safe havens for rare asils is one whose time is already upon us. I know there are some folks in England who have bahrainy horses and are freezing their semen. An international genetic bank of frozen semen and eggs funded by WAHO would be a spot on way for WAHO to do penance for botching up the stud books by letting in the non asils from several european and u.s studbooks, as well as the non asils fropm the cradle countries.
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  3. The idea of a save haven for Arabian horses is not new. Already the Blunts and in Egypt the R.A.S. and also Raswan and many other dedicated breeders have thought the same. And by the way, even the today´s breeders of the Middle East keep many of their most valued horses in Europe or America in order to avoid losses and early death due to the climatic conditions in their countries.
    All of us preservationalist breeders already share in this endeavor to maintain the bloodlines we have in our stables and hearts. And if now a new timeline has arrived to continue in preverving what is left in the Arab countries hopefully enough supporters will be found to help You, Edouard, in Your plans. I wish You all the best!

  4. Not seeing the Tahawies on the list! Cannot say they are threatened by the political instability but rather by breeders’ politics and corruption. We are still fighting to establish an official local register for them in Egypt.

  5. Agree, Yasser!

  6. Hi,
    I used to own an amazing arab called cromer al assil and I looked it up and I think he is related to the orginal arabs. He was an amazing endurance horse, He came in the top 10 in a 100 mile endurance race.

  7. Interesting points, I like your WAHO gene bank idea Bruce. I largely agree with you re endurance horses, we should not be complacent though, we compete at advanced level on our Crabbets (yes I know the ‘S’ word but still…) and I won the AHS marathon this year (on my ‘pansy assed WAHO toy’ as I still teasingly call him 🙂 luckily although as an Arab he is quite able to read my mind he doesn’t actually understand English! 🙂 )with a French bred and an Anglo behind me.
    However a large proportion of top endurance horses now at FEI level are in fact Anglos or French bred (so um… Anglos). Not that there aren’t also a huge proportion of wonderful CMK types or even better some Asil horses but it all comes back to my boring refrain of selection for performance ….Arabs are the worlds best (endurance, though not only endurance) horse because they have been selected for millenia for this attribute, if we fail to continue to perfomance test as an essential part of breeding policy and rely on pedigree or worse show results the Arab will end up ceding his pre-eminence to carefully bred and selected horses who are Arab derivatives but not purebred, much less Asil.

    Yasser as ever I wish you well in your endeavour to safeguard the Tawahis.

    Edouard I was surprised when I read that you felt Europe unsafe, times aren’t easy here in Wales/ Britain but certainly it doesn’t feel like we are about to plunge into the abyss, then with a chill I rememered that you are an economist and so know far more than me about the situation … eek!

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