Gifted Saudi show jumper Dalma Malhas will be competing on home soil for the first time ever in December. The first female rider to represent Saudi Arabia at an Olympic event is adding another milestone to her sporting career by riding in the mixed Saudi national equestrian team at the upcoming Diriyah Equestrian Festival.
The US-born Malhas, who won a bronze medal during the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore, is more than excited to compete in her own country. “It’s a rendezvous I’ve been dreaming about for a very long time. I am really excited, this is going to be a first time for me competing on home soil. I’ve been all over the world, I did the World Championships, I’ve really been everywhere except Saudi Arabia," the 27-year-old- told Arab News.
Around 1,500 visitors are assumed to attend the event, which is believed to be a great boost for female equestrianism in the Kingdom. Malhas has also said global riding fans should take advantage of the recent tourist visas launched by Saudi Arabia. “I attended last year’s inaugural event at Al Duhami Farm as a spectator and honestly it took my breath away. I have been part of shows all around the world and this was so special. What this event represents, history, heritage, talent of the present and building for the future, makes it a very special blend. It is a truly iconic event,” she told The Saudi Gazette.
About Dalma Malhas
Dalma Malhas began riding at the tender age of four. The talented horsewoman was competing in Rome, where she was guided by Duccio Bartalucci, a former coach for Italy’s national Olympic show jumping team, by the age of 12. The London-educated athlete then went on to further perfect her technique in France, where she trains at Chantilly’s Forsan Equestrian Centre. In 2010, Malhas, who has been training with Roger Yves Bost, won a bronze medal during Singapore’s Youth Olympic Games while competing in the 14 to 18 age group, making her only the third Saudi sportsperson at that point to win an Olympic medal. Malhas, who speaks French as well as her native Arabic and English, was briefly slated to compete at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as her bronze medal qualified her for an International Olympic Committee wildcard. Had she taken part, she would have earned a place in the Olympics history book as the first female show jumper to participate for Saudi Arabia. However, she did become the first woman to represent Saudi Arabia at the World Equestrian Games in Tyron, which took place in 2018.
About Diriyah Equestrian Festival
The Diriyah Equestrian Festival (DEF) 2019 will involve 150 international riders, grooms, officials, companions and trainers, as well as club and crew members. The event in Al Duhami Farm, taking place from December 12-14 and 19-21, will be history in the making as Saudi women and men will compete together as one team in the Kingdom for the first time. The first time they rode together competitively abroad was during the Nations Cup in October’s Morocco Royal Tour.
Additionally, Saudi riders will compete against the world’s best as it will be the first International Federation for Equestrian Sports sanctioned competition in Saudi Arabia and points earned will count towards qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the World Cup. Ramzy Al-Duhami, an Olympic equestrian, and his wife and partner Sara Baban, are hosting the event at the customised riding arena they conceived together.
DEF is part of the Diriyah Season, an epic month of sporting events. Diriyah, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site, will also host performances from some of the biggest international music artists.