Abu Dhabi hosts joint WOAH-IHSC Subregional Workshop on ‘Facilitation of Temporary International Horse Movement’

Media updates
13 March 2024 Author: FEI

The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) and the International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC) – an FEI and IFHA collaboration since 2013 - joined forces in February for a workshop focussed on facilitating temporary international horse movement in the Middle East. Hosted by the United Arab Emirates National Equestrian Federation (UAE NEF), the workshop was held in Abu Dhabi on the occasion of the inaugural qualifier for the Longines League of Nations™ series 2024, and convened over 30 representatives from veterinary authorities, equestrian federations and racing authorities across 11 countries in Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Middle East and Europe to engage in robust dialogue in support of the international movement of competition horses.

“Building on the strong foundations laid by the WOAH-IHSC Regional Workshop in Rabat, Morocco in April 2019, we have identified the key issues which are impacting the efficient international movement of horses within the Middle East, and the solutions required to overcome those hurdles,” said IHSC Vice-President and FEI President Ingmar De Vos, who opened the workshop. “The cross-border movement of horses still faces critical challenges which need to be addressed together in order for horse sport to continue to grow sustainably.

“This workshop provides the necessary impetus to do so, bringing together experts, administrators and stakeholders from around the world to explore opportunities to advance an updated WOAH-IHSC roadmap for the temporary import and export of horses within the Middle East, a region, which boasts a strong equestrian heritage and some of the most prestigious racing and equestrian sports competitions in the world, sanctioned and organised under the jurisdiction of the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA).” 

Mr De Vos’ welcome address was followed by remarks from Dr Mohamed Alhosani, Sub-Regional Representation for the Arabian Gulf of WOAH, and Mr Sultan Al Yehyaee, representative of the UAE National Federation, FEI Board Member and Chair of FEI Group VII. The opening session also provided an overview of the objectives of the workshop and an update on upcoming equestrian events in the region.

In the next sessions, participants identified key obstacles to the movement of horses in the subregion and explored potential solutions and their applications, including the establishment of Equine Disease-Free Zones (EDFZ) and High-Health, High-Performance (HHP) Health Certificates and Sanitary Protocols. Participants also examined the current status of infectious diseases in the region, together with new technological developments that could potentially be applied towards the movement of horses – including digital passports.

Attendees also participated in a roundtable discussion to consider the current challenges and potential solutions for enhanced horse movements, engaging in stimulating dialogue and sharing best practices from around the region.

The workshop concluded with an agreed set of challenges and opportunities, and plan of action.   A follow-up workshop is planned for the second half of 2024, in order to build on the momentum of the first workshop, and assess progress in terms of enhanced movement of competition horses in the Middle East.

About the IHSC
The IHSC is a non-profit organisation that was created in 2013, when the Fédération Equestre International (FEI) and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) joined forces to create the first formal vehicle for cooperation between the world’s leading bodies for horse sports. The key mission of the IHSC is to encourage cooperation and the exchange of information on all matters of mutual interest between the IFHA and the FEI, as well as represent the collective interests of the global horse industry with the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) and other international bodies. 

About WOAH
The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH, founded as OIE) is the global authority on animal health and welfare, its mission is to improve animal health globally, working across borders to foster a One Health approach, recognising that the health of animals, humans and the environment are interdependent. Since 1924, WOAH has been collecting, analysing and disseminating veterinary scientific information, and encouraging international solidarity in the control of animal health risks. In 1998, WOAH was recognised as the reference international standard-setting organisation for animal health by the World Trade Organization (WTO).