Saudi Arabia’s Maida’n Salah: Juanita, The Arabian Thoroughbred

Maida’n Salah:  Juanita, the Arabian Thoroughbred




There is nothing better than sitting in the soft sand at sunset just taking it easy and contemplating life, when from the bottom of a dune you start to notice a plume of dust rising.  The next thing you know a Saudi man comes out of the dust astride a magnificent Arabian thoroughbred.  It is an incredible and fluid display of horsemanship seeing the Arabian thoroughbred galloping up the sand dune with ease.







The horse’s owner noticed our group from his desert camp where he spends much of his time training Arabian thoroughbreds for racing.  He prefers to train them in the midst of the desert.  If they can perform well up and down the sand dunes with ease, he knows his horses can take on any challenger.



Although he spoke no English, he was a kind man and when he spotted our group and recognized us as primarily foreigners, he thought we might enjoy seeing an Arabian thoroughbred up close and personal.



The horse he brought to us is a female named Juanita.  She is three years old and this year during Ramadan 2008/1429 she will run in her first competitive race.  Juanita was well-trained and although many Arabian thoroughbreds are visibly high-spirited, she was quite docile in nature.  She gracefully allowed all in our group to come and admire her and scratch her behind her ears.  Her owner also encouraged all of us to take her for a short ride.  I could not resist that opportunity for one of my dreams since as a young child even was to ride an Arabian horse in the desert feeling the wind at the back of my neck.  Although I did not get to race with Juanita I could still feel her power as we strolled at a leisurely pace into the sunset.






Her owner shared that it is a tradition in Maida’n Salah to race Arabian thoroughbreds in the desert during Ramadan.  During the Eid al Fitr holiday residents and visitors will share a special meal in the desert.  After everyone has taken their fill, the races will begin.  It will be a full afternoon and evening with the best dishes, races, traditional music, song and dance as everyone joins together to celebrate the spirit and joy of Eid al Fitr.



It was with regret that our group said good night to Juanita and her owner but as the sun set, we realized it was time to go.  However this was a sunset I’ll always remember.
















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