Wen Yi Huang received unexpected New Year greetings when Emirati equestrian superstar Tariq Al Muhairi and his talented steed Al Maranthi (Ocean Prince) put on an exclusive display for the Chinese golfer to welcome in ‘The Lunar Year of the Horse.’
Huange, a former building site labourer, is in the UAE for this weekend's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
“Though Chinese New Year celebrations don’t begin until January 30th we wanted to take the opportunity to wish Wen Yi Huang well both in this week’s championship and for the Year of the Horse,” said Ali Eid AlMheiri, Executive Director of Mubadala Real Estate & Infrastructure, the developers of Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island.
“This is the start of our plans for a Chinese New Year celebration on Al Maryah Island at the centre of Abu Dhabi which is home to Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotel and The Galleria, Abu Dhabi’s premier shopping and dining destination. We intend this to become an annual event, one that will grow in the years to come.”
The display was on the beachfront at the Monte Carlo Beach Club, Saadiyat.
“There couldn’t be a better setting for a display by an Ocean Prince than Saadiyat Beach,” said 38-year-old Tariq, who runs Abu Dhabi’s Yah (Northern Star) stables. “Wen Yi was an enthusiastic student and if he ever decides to lay down his golf clubs, he should get into the saddle.”
For Wen Yi, the morning display was the realization of an ambition come true.
“I’d always wanted to ride a horse but have never had the time as I’m always flying from one place to another to play golf. I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this and appreciate the effort Abu Dhabi has gone too,” said the golfing-star-in-the making, who is tipped to enter the world’s top 100 in the coming year.
“Yes, I’ve read all the comments from golf critics about where I could go in the next year and I hope they’re right – certainly the Year of the Horse has got off to a gallop for me.”
The display was staged by Al Maryah Island and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), which are pushing to build Chinese inbound visitor arrivals to the emirate.
“The Chinese are proving to be a strong target group for our assets delivering significant spend to the destination,” said Ali Eid AlMheiri. “We are looking to build cultural ties with this much sought-after segment and Abu Dhabi’s traditional equestrian roots could not find a better platform than in the Year of the Horse.”
Al Maryah Island’s Chinese New Year celebrations are to be rolled out shortly and are expected to attract visitors from throughout the Gulf and beyond.
“The celebrations will be for everyone, Chinese and other nationalities and we hope to deliver an element of surprise which will set the stage for the years to come.”
Wen Yi will line up at this weekend’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship against some of the event’s strongest participants including former world number ones Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy, Abu Dhabi’s record-breaking ambassador Matteo Manassero, crowd favourite and world number 10 Sergio Garcia and reigning Race to Dubai winner Henrik Stenson at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
“To be given the opportunity to play alongside some of the world’s greatest players is a challenge I’m really relishing. I’m told the course is tougher than ever and might throw up a few unexpected results, but I intend to take them in my stride,” said Wen Yi.