Princess Haya Stuns Horse World Announcing She Will Not Seek 3rd Term as FEI President

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FEI President Princess Haya. © Ken Braddick/
Princess Haya when first elected FEI President. © Ken Braddick/

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Aug. 12, 2014–Princess Haya stunned the equestrian world Tuesday when she announced she will not seek a third four-year term as president of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) so as to devote her efforts to humanitarian work in the Middle East.

The princess was virtualy guaranteed a third term as the head of the rganization based in Lausanne, Switzerland that governs international dressage, driving, endurance, eventing, jumping, reining, vaulting and para dressage when a special session of the FEI earlier this year approved amending the charter that had limited time in office to two terms.

“This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life,” said Princess Haya, daughter of the late king of Jordan and married to the ruler of Dubai with whom she has two children.

She was elected to her first FEI term in 2006.

“My very first act in office in 2006 was to prepare a motion to limit the term of the FEI President to two four-year terms,” she said. “I reiterated that view in my re-election campaign four years later and again when some of my supporters began advocating for a statute change that would permit me to run for a third term.

“Although I had always planned to leave office after this term, my resolve was weakened at the FEI General Assembly in 2013 when I was presented with a petition signed by 100 National Federations calling for an Extraordinary General Assembly to change the FEI Statutes. I gave more thought to the possibility of a third term when the Extraordinary General Assembly voted to change the Statutes to permit it.

“This demonstration of support was a humbling and truly huge moment in my life. And, as I weighed the possibilities in reaching this difficult decision, the gratitude and loyalty I felt to those who had been so faithful to me was paramount among the countless reasons compelling me to consider a third term.

“Equestrian sport has been and continues to be a source of inspiration to me. Horses and the relationship between a human and the horse are as old as time itself, and for me that relationship will never lose its magic. Horses and our community motivate the best part of my soul. I have loved serving this community, just as I have loved being an athlete in our family. And I have always felt that the Olympic values are a source of pride for all of us.

“I adore the friends I have made in the sport, many of whom I have relied on in office. My colleagues in the FEI, in the National Federations, in the Bureau and our Headquarters staff have done so much to improve and modernise this organisation in the last eight years, and I would have loved to continue to build on that progress.

“It would have been beyond exciting for me to continue to be part of this institution that is now truly in a position to reap the rewards of this metamorphosis and to see all of the continued work in that process be rewarded.

“Having said all that, the factors that have led to my decision not to seek a third term are, for me, impossible to ignore. I committed to a term limit, and that commitment still weighs heavily on me. However, most importantly, as I said in the EGA, I needed to see if a third term would work with my family.

“As always, I continue to have the support of my family, and yet, I am painfully aware that their support for me comes at a cost for them. Fate took my own mother away from me when I was three years of age. That experience greatly influences my efforts to strike the right work-life balance with my own two young children. I have always managed this balance in the past, but recent events have made me question my ability to do so.

“The situation in my region is turbulent and desperate at the moment. You will understand that these are also my people and my family, so recently much of the work that I have balanced with my FEI Presidency in the past has begun to make itself a first priority. In the last weeks, I have needed to put aside some of my work for the FEI to concentrate on humanitarian relief to Gaza and other work in that sector. And I feel that this is just the beginning.

“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. 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.”

The election for the FEI presidency will be held at the General Assembly in Baku, Azerbejan Dec. 14. Candidates for the post have to register by the deadline of Sept. 1.