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France accords Haya with Legion of Honour.

Dubai: Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain, wife of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was conferred with the National Order of the Legion of Honour, France's highest decoration in recognition of her efforts to raise the profile of equestrian sport.

Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, presented Princess Haya with the Legion of Honour insignia at a poignant ceremony on Saturday in Caen, France, the main host city of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2014.

Addressing selected guests at the special ceremony held in the historic Salon dore (Gold Salon) the French Minister lauded Princess Haya's career as an Olympic athlete, her contribution to equestrian sport as the FEI President and her success in bringing the Games to Normandy.

He also paid tribute to Princess Haya's humanitarian efforts around the world. "You are a remarkable person," Laurent Fabius said.

"Due to the inspiration you have given to many people over the years, through your sporting and humanitarian efforts, France is extremely happy to pronounce you Officer of the National Order of the Legion of Honour."

In her acceptance speech, Princess Haya said: "I accept this honour on behalf of all of my colleagues at the FEadEaration Equestre Internationale and everyone who contributed to the success of the World Equestrian Games in Normandy, including the 3,000 French volunteers and the wonderful people of this region, who welcomed the equestrian world to their home.

"I accept this honour on behalf of the dedicated humanitarian aid workers that I encounter in my travels as a UN Messenger of Peace -- the selfless healthcare workers from MEadecins Sans FrontiEaA res, the humanitarians from the World Food Programme, and so many other committed people who serve those in need long after I have returned to the comforts of my home.

"I accept this honour knowing that I have done so little to earn it, but inspired to do more in my limited capacity to advocate for a more equitable, more compassionate and a more peaceful future. I am deeply grateful," she concluded.

Princess Haya was elected to become the 13th president of the FEI and the first Arab head of the 102-year-old organisation in 2006. At the age of 31, she made history by becoming the youngest president of any international sports federation. She was re-elected to a second term in 2010 but declined a third tenure -- saying she wanted to spend more time with her family and give higher priority to her humanitarian work.

She also competed at the 2000 Olympic Games in Syndey and the 2002 FEI World Equestrian Games in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. Princess Haya follows in the footsteps of her late father, King Hussain I, who was also bestowed with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour in 1967.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Sep 8, 2014
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