ABU DHABI // Military links between the UAE and the UK, as well as the nations' mutual love of horses, will be celebrated tonight with the first performance outside Europe of the British Household Cavalry's Musical Ride. Over the next four days, the choreographed display of equestrian skills set to music will be performed at six shows, serving as the centrepiece of the Abu Dhabi Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition.
The British Ambassador to the UAE, Edward Oakden, yesterday described the Emirates as Britain's closest ally in the region. The performances of the Musical Ride would be a rare public example of one aspect of that close relationship, the "long-standing and enduring" military links dating back 200 years. "Many of those military links are by their nature discreet so it's all the better to celebrate this public demonstration of the military relationship," said Mr Oakden.
"The love of horses and pride in horsemanship is a trait that's deep in our two countries, irrespective of cultures. It gives this visit particular relevance and appeal." He was speaking at the Emirates Palace hotel, where a press conference, organised by the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage and the Household Cavalry, was heralded by four regimental trumpeters in full ornamental uniform.
General Charles Guthrie, the head of the regiment, said he first visited the Emirates as a young officer in 1968, three years before the UAE's federation. He said Abu Dhabi's development since then had been "nothing short of miraculous". The Musical Ride's 30 horses - 26 for the show and four reserves - were flown from Britain to Abu Dhabi 10 days ago. All had adapted well with the aid of local equestrian experts, said Gen Guthrie.
Capt Laura Holmes, the regimental veterinary officer, said the horses were being kept, and would be performing, in air-conditioned surroundings. Mohammed Khalaf al Mazrouie, the chairman of the exhibition's organising committee, described the team's visit as "cultural diplomacy". Traditional Emirati skills had been on display at a festival near London in July, he added. firstname.lastname@example.org