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Tianjin races ahead in China.

Meydan's joint venture set to boost country's equine industry

Dubai As the 2010 horse racing season kicks off with Meydan as the No 1 racing destination in Dubai, a new facility being built in China is modelling itself on the prestigious race course.

Meydan's Tianjin Horse City aims to put China on the international horse racing map, boosting its economy and prestige.

"Meydan's success since its launch and its continued growth potential makes it an excellent model to replicate in a burgeoning economy such as China's. It is a significant partnership and we are very bullish about the growth prospects presented there," said Saeed Humaid Al Tayer, chairman of the board and CEO of Meydan.

"Tianjin Equine Culture City [TECC] is planned in multiple phases, similar to our approach with Meydan. The value of the project will vary depending on phases and the components approved. Phase 1 is currently valued at approximately 14 billion yuan [approximately $2 billion]," Al Tayer told Gulf News in an exclusive interview.

While several racecourses already exist in China, the industry is not as prominent there as in other countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, where it generates an estimated $39 billion (Dh143.44 billion), $8 billion and $6 billion per annum respectively.

The absence of an ecosystem to support and drive the industry in China has meant it has fallen out of the spotlight. However, Meydan's venture in China aims to bring it to the forefront. Tianjin Horse City has filed an application to the Chinese Equestrian Association for the establishment of a national equestrian sports and horse race training base.

"We hope to lend our expertise and extensive experience in positioning horse racing so that it not only promotes the sport, but supports its related industries and provides viable economic returns for the people of China, at the same time, allowing horse racing to be seen as a prestigious sport and a symbol for luxury, lifestyle and culture," Al Tayer said.

Upon completion, the project is estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of yuan in taxes and profits to the state within a five-year period, and to provide employment to 10,000 workers.

Phoenix shaped

The joint venture between the UAE developer, Meydan, a Chinese investment company and a Mal-aysian design, planning and engineering firm to develop the Tianjin Horse City was announced last March.

The proposed venue will be in the shape of a phoenix and will cover 3,005,641 square metres, which will be provided by the Chinese government.

Tianjin Horse City, which will be established in Ninghe County, Tianjin, will train 8,000 equestrian professionals, breed 1,000 high quality stud horses, conduct horse auctions and hold international and domestic professional horse races.

The development also includes an educational venture which will promote equine culture among the country's youth. In a bid to encourage both domestic and international tourism, the project will also include hotels in the 5-star to 7-star range.

Alongside the equine-oriented infrastructure, which includes an equestrian college, feedstuff plants, a breeding base, a horse hospital and a quarantine centre, the master development will have residential and commercial components.

"The [racing district development] will cost $1.46 billion. The other components [properties development] where we have the breeding farms, the schools and the academy would sum up to $4 billion," Mohammad Al Khayat, the Commercial Director, said at a press briefing yesterday.

Construction of the project, which will be divided into two phases, will take place over 10 years. According to a statement, by the end of 2011, the equestrian college, the stud horse base and the feedstuff plant will start trial operations.

By the end of 2012, the horse trading centre, a hotel, clubhouse, shopping centre and an entertainment centre will be completed and by the end of 2013 the offices and living facilities should be finished.

By 2014, national standard club events, national equestrian club and national equestrian park franchises will be developed, and preparation for a horse culture communication market and an international events market will have begun.

The second five-year plan spans from January 2016 to December 2020 and will focus on the listing of the company and building cohesion with the international horse industry.

The signing of an MoU for the joint venture which will spearhead the development of Tianjin was announced this month.

The joint venture, called Hua Zhi Jie Horse Industries, will be based in Tianjin. International Equine Group is a partnership between Meydan and Malaysia-based Teo A. Khing Design Consultants. Tianjn State Farms Agribusiness Group is owned by the Chinese government.

"For our activities in Tianjin, we have, together with our partner TAK, formed International Equine Group (IEG), which will undertake a series of equine-related activities in China.

Adviser

"We have appointed China Construction Bank International (CCBI) as our financial adviser and investment banker in this project to identify and accelerate our execution plan. We believe that there are acquisition and/or consolidation opportunities in China and elsewhere in this industry.

"In addition, we will also need to import and establish complementary technology such as a feed mill, an equine auction, an equine hospital and more. We will release more information at appropriate stages," said Al Tayer.

Supplied picture

Giving wings to dreams

A model of the Tianjin Horse City that will be built in the shape of a phoenix. It is being built over more than three million square metres.

ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/Gulf News

top expertise Strong credentials

Saeed Al Tayer, chairman of the board and CEO of Meydan, believes there are acquisition or consolidation opportunities in China and elsewhere in the horse racing industry.

Supplied picture

Sprawling complex

The layout of the Tianjin Horse City that is coming up?in Tianjin.

Supplied picture

Future look

An artist's impression of the race track at Tianjin Horse City, which will mirror Dubai's Meydan City Grandstand.

at a glance

ambitious proposal

n The racing district development will cost $1.46 billion (Dh5.36 billion).

n The property development (the breeding farms, the schools and the academy etc) will cost $4 billion.

n The development will have a total area of 3,005,641 square metres.

n Along with the racing tracks, the development will train 8,000 equestrian professionals and breed 1,000 high quality studhorses.

-- A.L.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Nov 24, 2010
Words:1069
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