Questions and Answers for Ali Al Rumaihi, Event Director, Longines Hathab – Qatar Equestrian Tour
1. Due to Covid-19, Longines Hathab - Qatar Equestrian Tour has been postponed until further notice, in line with national guidelines on sports events. And sport competitions all around the world are facing similar challenges. Have any decisions been taken by the Organizing Committee regarding season 3, which was supposed to end in April 2020 after Tour 12? Will the event start again when sports activities resume in Doha, or will the standings after Tour 9 be taken as final positions for this season?
Ali Al Rumaihi – The Qatar Olympic Committee has announced the resumption of sporting activities after 20 July 2020. The Longines HATHAB Committee will be meeting soon to discuss the resumption, considering that riders will need time to train and prepare their horses for the competition as well as weather conditions. In any case, we have completed 9 of the 12 planned tours for Longines HATHAB Season 3 and, according to the competition rules, the final outcome was to be based on the best of 7 tour results of the riders.
2. What kind of effect has the postponement had on Qatar Equestrian Federation and Al Shaqab as competition organizers, and also the riders, event partners, and you personally, as it is such an important national event that aims to inspire the next generation of Qatar’s equestrian champions?
Ali Al Rumaihi - It hasn’t been easy, I have to be honest. As an Organizing Committee, we in put in a lot of effort in trying to make the third season of the Tour the best so far. Everyone was very happy about the way the season was progressing, including riders and event partners, and then the postponement came just as we were entering the final exciting stages of the season. We really appreciate the support of our event partners, Longines, ExxonMobil, and Salam International, during this time. Right now, we are all aware that there are greater things to consider than equestrian sport, or any sport for that matter. Covid-19 has changed the way we live, and we have to do everything we can to stay safe and healthy. The most important thing right now is for all residents and citizens of Qatar to follow the national health guidelines.
3. Is the Organizing Committee considering any new rules/procedures for the competition, due to Covid19? For instance, in the UK, football matches might take place without any fans, in empty stadiums. What about health rules, to keep riders and horses safe?
Ali Al Rumaihi – Unlike other sports, horse riding is, generally a contactless sport. The nearest person a rider gets into contact with is the horse’s groom. New procedures relating to social distancing will have to be applied in the arenas among spectators so as to ensure their health and safety. Temperature taking will also be applied at entrances as part and parcel of preventive measures for COVID-19.
For equestrian fans who do not wish to be in crowded places, we have live telecast of Longines HATHAB on Al KASS TV so that they can easily follow all the action duringthe competition..
4. Are you able to keep in touch with the teams and riders during this time? If so, how do you do this, considering the present Covid-19 precautionary measures?
Ali Al Rumaihi – Yes, we provide regular updates to the teams and riders, keeping them informed about ongoing plans, so that we can all be prepared for the day when we are given the go-ahead to hopefully start the season again. We stay in touch on Whatsapp groups and arrange online meetings as well. We encourage the riders to keep up their fitness levels by exercising at home. But it’s not only physical fitness that is important. In the current environment, when our lives have been disrupted, it’s vital we stay mentally strong as well. This is why Whatsapp group and video calls and meetings help so much, because it not only helps with official matters, but also gives us a chance to enjoy some social interaction with each other.
5. As a former Olympic equestrian athlete, who represented Qatar in showjumping at the Rio Games in 2016, how are you keeping fit and healthy during Covid-19? Do you exercise at home?
Ali Al Rumaihi – Yes, I make sure I exercise regularly at home. As an athlete, I know the benefits of staying physically fit. It’s a challenge when you can’t enjoy your regular fitness routine due to the Covid-19 restrictions, but there are plenty of workouts you can do at home during this time, depending on your requirements. For me, though, health and fitness is not only related to being physical strong. As I mentioned before, mental fitness is always important, and now more than ever. Since we’re staying at home these days, we have to find ways to keep our minds sharp. I read a lot and try to keep up to date with what’s happening around the world, not only in equestrian sport, but with general events. And, of course, I do have more time to spend with my family, since we’re all at home. This definitely helps in terms of emotional well being, especially when we’re living in uncertain times.
6. Covid-19 has changed things for everyone around the world. We are all learning to live differently and not to take things for granted, even small things like being able to take a walk outside. What are the main lessons Covid-19 has taught you?
Ali Al Rumaihi –We should never take anything for granted, and we should appreciate what we have, no matter big or small. Even now, with all the restrictions and protective guidelines in place because of Covid-19, we can still look on the positive side. If we can maintain our good health, we should be thankful, when so many around the world are facing challenges. And if we are able to be with our families, let us make the most of this time, as we all know how rushed and busy we normally are.
7. What is your advice to the people of Qatar during this period of Covid-19?
Ali Al Rumaihi –Very simple. We should all follow the national health guidelines to stay safe and to stop the spread of Covid-19. There is nothing more important than this right now.
8. What is the first thing you’re going to do when the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted?
Ali Al Rumaihi –Meet up with my friends so that we can ride our horses together!