Princess Haya will not be standing for a third term as president of horse sport’s governing body, the FEI.
She said today (Tuesday 12 August) that “after a great deal of thought and reflection” she has made the “very difficult decision” not to stand for a third term, despite winning a vote earlier this year allowing her to do so.
The president, who was first elected in 2006, cited the desire to spend more time with her young family and to put more into humanitarian work in Gaza as the reason.
“To fulfill my commitments to humanitarian work and to raise my children with the time to love them seems truly overwhelming; it is clear to me that I cannot in good faith promise to give my all in each of these areas while also continuing to be the hands-on president that the FEI needs and deserves,” she said.
“After agonising over these conflicting worries and desires, I realise that my decision cannot be put off any longer. For the good of the FEI and most of all, our community, this decision had to be reached in good time to allow the many excellent candidates to come forward.”
FEI rules previously limited presidents to two consecutive four-year terms — a rule brought in by Princess Haya herself.
Princess Haya added that she had always intended to step down after two terms, but that her “resolve had been weakened” by the response at the extraordinary general assembly in April.
There she won a landslide vote, allowing her to stand for a third term as FEI president. The vote still limits the Presidential term to three — previously the FEI Presidential term of office was unlimited.
As the junior wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, several nations had said they would oppose any movement as they believed it creates a “conflict of interest”.
But in April only three Federations were in opposition [Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Holland] with a further 103 showing their support.
“This demonstration of support was a humbling and truly huge moment in my life,” she said.
“Equestrian sport has been, and continues to be, a source of inspiration to me. I have loved serving this community, just as I have loved being an athlete in our family.”
Princess Haya added that she has “no doubt” the future of the FEI “is solid”.
“I am very proud of the many things we were able to achieve together during my time in office. I look forward to an election campaign focused on ideas for further improvements. I will now be in a position to focus totally on serving the FEI until my last minute in office and to leaving the house in the best order for my successor,” she said.
“I remain deeply honoured to have held this position for eight years.”
Princess Haya was to face competition for the role, as in May Swiss businessman Pierre Genecard officially declared he would also be standing for the position.
“I am deeply convinced that I could bring a renewed energy to the FEI in many aspects, be it in sports, commercial matters or media promotion, not to mention the welfare of the horse,” said Mr Genecand earlier this year.
The FEI presidential election will take place at the general assembly on 14 December.