Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

Horse replicas painted by students remain at Jebel Ali Racecourse until schools reopen

Life-sized horses that were painted as part of a school competition in Dubai are sitting in Jebel Ali waiting to go home

It all started in Newbury, England in 2009. A competition under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, saw 15 life-sized Arabian horses delivered to schools in West Berkshire, challenging children in primary years to paint their own design reflecting Anglo-Arabic culture.

Last year, in December, the competition came to the UAE for the first time, as 15 government schools in Dubai were asked to participate.

Children were given the tools to let their imaginations run wild. They were asked to paint scenes depicting whatever they liked on these steeds. Many chose to draw inspiration from traditional Emirati culture, while others opted for bright colours and bold patterns.

The first-place winner received Dh15,000, while second and third place won Dh12,000 and Dh10,000, respectively.

But no one went home empty-handed, committee head Abdullah Ansari tells The National, as every other child got Dh500 each. "Everybody wins. We don’t want to make children unhappy, so we give prizes for them also," he said.

To see more of the artwork, look through the photo gallery above.

Next year, the organising committee hopes to invite more schools from across the UAE to get involved, including private institutions.

For now, however, this year's batch of painted statues remain at Jebel Ali Racecourse, outside the trainers' and jockeys' rooms, waiting to be delivered to their respective student's school.

Sheikh Hamdan is very interested in getting the new generation involved in the sport

Mirza Al Sayegh, director of the Minister Of Finance's office

As the UAE's educational facilities are currently closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, no one knows how long that might take.

"Once they reopen, they'll be kept at the schools," Ansari explains. "That way the children will see them and ask questions. We want to encourage children to love horses. Some children are afraid of horses, but we want them to enjoy them. Who knows, one day one student might end up becoming a jockey or a trainer."

The project was inspired by Sheikh Hamdan's passion for equine education. "Sheikh Hamdan is very interested in getting the new generation involved in the sport," Mirza Al Sayegh, the director of the Minister Of Finance's office, previously told The National.

Updated: March 25, 2020 04:14 PM

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