A LOVE for horse racing and high enthusiasm in organising equestrian events has helped the UAE ramp up imports of equine products and equipment.

According to the latest statistics, total imports crossed Dh1.2 billion ($326 million) in 2013, a cumulative increase of 20 per cent compared to 2009. The information was revealed by Al Fajer Information and Services on the occasion of Al Fares 2014, the international equine trade fair held in late October and which featured 215 companies and major national pavilions from 21 countries.

“International companies have recognised the significance of the equine industry in the GCC. UAE customers are distinguished by a purchasing power that is three times that of their European counterparts on equine products,” said Rasheed Mbayed, exhibition manager, Al Fares 2014.

“That’s why European companies chose to participate in Al Fares, instead of other shows taking place in Europe during the same period.”

The three day show was held at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre at a time when races fixtures, including endurance, flat races and show jumping have gained in popularity. Mbayed said the horse racing scene had been enhanced both by private and public clubs. The show witnessed the international launch of the world’s first interactive jumping and cross-country equestrian simulator.

The groundbreaking horse simulation technology has been described as a patented value addition to the simulator equestrian industry, enabling many horse-riders to have a riding experience closest to the real thing from the comfort of their homes.

Racewood, a key participant that launched the new simulation technology, has been making horse simulators since 1990.

Al Fares 2014 witnessed the participation of new names in the equine industry from countries participating for the first time, such as Seven Horses from Australia and Over Horses from Poland. Pakistan made its debut in this year’s edition.

Al Fares, the oldest equine show in the Mena region, also saw the launch of innovative products such as a GPS camera system that combines video filming cameras and GPS-enabled wrist bands, allowing horse riders to film their movements on the saddle.

As well as suppliers of equipment, those participating at the expo included horse owners, trainers, chiefs of the equine industry, renowned jockeys, polo professionals and horse lovers from across the world.