The ceremony, held in recognition of Prince Faissal’s lifelong services to equestrian sport, was attended by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and over 300 delegates of the FEI Sports Forum 2017.
“This is a humbling gesture from the FEI, which represents one of the most passionate and exciting sports in the world,” HH Prince Faissal said.
“Although this is a personal award, I feel this recognises the work of everyone in the equestrian community. We work together, we sacrifice our time and efforts in the name of this sport that we all love so much – and because of this, our sport is flourishing.”
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II became the first recipient of the FEI Lifetime Achievement award in 2014 in recognition of her leading role as supporter of equestrian sport throughout her reign as British monarch. The award was presented to Her Majesty by former FEI President HRH Princess Haya at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace.
President Bach, who visited FEI headquarters in the countdown to the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said following the ceremony:
“Equestrian sport celebrated 104 years in the Olympic Movement at the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Like many Olympic sports, the success of equestrian is driven by highly committed volunteers and by a strong and dedicated community. Tonight, we are celebrating everyone involved around the world in promoting equestrian and its values.”
The life of Prince Faissal has been intrinsically linked with horses since he started riding as a child. His passion for equestrian sport really took off when got his first horse at the age of 14, and continued while he studied for his Masters in Industrial Engineering at Stanford University (USA), where he bought his first Arabian stallion.
Prince Faissal went on to create the Saudi Equestrian Federation in 1990, and it took just six years for Saudi Arabia’s Jumping athletes to make their Olympic debut in Atlanta 1996.
At the next Games in Sydney, Saudi Arabia won its first Olympic equestrian medal when Khaled Al Eid rode Khashm al-Aan to individual Jumping bronze. History was then made once again at London 2012, when Saudi Arabia won its first team Jumping bronze medal.
In 2010, Dalma Rushdi Malhas became the first Saudi female athlete to compete at Olympic level when she claimed individual bronze at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore with Flash Top Hat. And the same year, Abdullah Al Sharbatly won individual silver with Seldana Di Campalto at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games™ in Lexington, Kentucky (USA).
Prince Faissal also left a lasting legacy for the FEI as a Bureau member (1991-1999), Chair of FEI Group VII (1991-1999) and FEI Children’s Committee Member (1995-2002).
As chairman of the Saudi Equestrian Fund, he also supported the creation of a valuable legacy for the FEI Nations Cup™ Jumping, giving the FEI the opportunity to modernise and globalise the series, which was created in 1909. This year, a record 50 nations are taking part across 19 countries.
“Prince Faissal’s entire life has been dedicated to horses and promoting equestrian sport. He has made an incredible impact as we see our sport continuing to grow rapidly around the world,” Ingmar De Vos said.
“Tonight, we are here to celebrate his loyalty and his long lasting contribution to future generations of equestrians.
“The global equestrian community is a very special one, pulling together to make big steps. We are taking the opportunity here tonight to say thank you to Prince Faissal and also to our equestrian family during these exciting times for our sport.”