Baku hosts gala dinner for participants of FEI General Assembly (PHOTO)
The 'Mangal Steak House' restaurant in Baku hosted a gala dinner titled 'Welcome to Azerbaijan!' for the participants of the International Equestrian Federation's (FEI) General Assembly, organized by the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan (ARAF).
At the opening of the festive evening, the guests were welcomed the Azerbaijani Equestrian Federation President, Head of the State Border Service (SBS) of Azerbaijan, Colonel General Elchin Guliyev.
Elchin Guliyev said it is a great honor for Baku to host such an important event in the world of equestrian sport.
"Today, Azerbaijan is known worldwide as a sporting nation," he said. "Baku has proved that it can at the highest level hold any international competition."
"Thanks to the purposeful policy of Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, all areas, including sports are rapidly developing in our country," Elchin Guliyev added.
He further said the Azerbaijani athletes are achieving great success in the world and European championships, Olympic Games and other international competitions.
"The Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan is developing as well," he said, adding, "Holding of the International Equestrian Federation General Assembly in Baku and participation of the heads of federations and honored guests in it, demonstrates our strengthening of international ties."
"I express my great appreciation to all, especially my deep gratitude to the Princess of Jordan, Her Royal Highness Haya Bint Al Hussein for the support in the development of equestrian sport in Azerbaijan," Guliyev added.
Princess of Jordan, Haya Bint Al Hussein in turn recalled the last time she visited Azerbaijan four years ago, when she met with the country's President Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva.
"I am eternally grateful to them for their support of our sport," Al Hussein said. She also thanked the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan for warm hospitality and the federation's hard work to ensure the success of the General Assembly.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein further said that equestrian games and competitions have long history in Azerbaijan, as there was good evidence that Azerbaijanis were competing in such contests as early as 6th century BC.
"By 12th century, Azerbaijan was hosting an international equestrian competition for riders from throughout the region," she said. "Today, Azerbaijan's athletes are competing at higher levels, and the Equestrian Federation of Azerbaijan is a strong member of the FEI."
The festive evening guests were served delicious meals of Azerbaijani national cuisine. They were also presented a concert program with the participation of folk music and mugham performers, and dance groups.
The General Assembly of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) is one of the key events in the world of equestrian sport. It is annually held in different cities, and is being held in Baku on December 11-14, 2014 for the first time.
More than 350 representatives have been accredited to attend the meetings, and this is a record in the history of the FEI General Assembly.
The forum, which brings together representatives of all national equestrian federations, will discuss and settle the most important issues of development of all equestrian disciplines, problems of funding, management and so on.
In connection with the election of the president of the International Equestrian Federation, the FEI General Assembly in Baku will be the focus of world attention. Presidential candidates are Ingmar De Vos (Belgium), Pierre Durand (France), Pierre Genesand (Switzerland), Ulf Helgstand (Denmark), John Mc Ewen (England) and Javier Revuelta del Peral (Spain).
John Mc Ewen is the vice president of FEI, and Ingmar De Vos is the FEI secretary-general.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein will provide a special cocktail evening for the guests on December 13.
A gala evening will be organized by the FEI and ARAF in 'Buta Palace' on Dec. 14. Best athletes, breeders, teams of young athletes, etc. will be awarded in various categories.
The guests will also enjoy tours in Baku, during which they will visit the Museum of Carpet, the National Flag Square, Heydar Aliyev Center and "Gala" State Historical and Ethnographic Reserve.