Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Horse race gallops through Jordan’s desert

Horse race gallops through Jordan’s desert

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former Miss France Camille Cerf takes care of horses during the second stage of the Gallops of Jordan on October 26. AFP

Horse race gallops through Jordan’s desert

Galloping across the shimmering red sands of Jordan’s spectacular Wadi Rum valley, more than one hundred riders on horses swept through the lunar-like desert as part of an epic long-distance race.

The 200km five-day long “Gallops” race, involving mainly amateur jockeys, started in Wadi Rum and ended on Friday in the famed ancient desert city of Petra, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Quazane, an amateur French team comprised of five women medics, took second place, beating the all-male Royal Cavalry of Oman into third spot.

The race was won by another French team, Blue Ghallah, made up of three women and two men.

The cross-country team event, which organisers billed as an “orienteering and endurance equestrian race” across “sparse desert terrains, canyons and mountains”, has previously taken place in India, Morocco and Oman.

“It is a great experience that allows us to discover a new country,” said 27-year-old Camille Cerf, a model who won Miss France six years ago.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Participants ride their horses during the first stage of the Gallops of Jordan on October 25 at the Wadi Rum desert. AFP

Organisers say the race draws not only on horse-riding skills, but also competitors’ “stamina, their spirit of solidarity, as well as their self-discipline”.

Riders included Emeline Parmentier, a 26-year-old Belgian who lost both her legs from above the knee in a car crash in 2019, and who took part using a specially fitted saddle.

“After the accident, I said to myself: Well I can’t walk anymore, and if I don’t walk I won’t discover new things – now riding horses is like walking again,” she said.

Boost to tourism

Other riders included Princess Jalila bint Ali, from Jordan’s royal family.

The race in Jordan brought together riders from across Europe, and as far as Argentia, the US, Indonesia and Japan.

“We have 133 riders from 16 countries,” race organiser Badi Kabir said. All the horses come from Jordan.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Former Miss France Camille Cerf (centre) rides her horse during the fourth stage of the Gallops of Jordan at the Wadi Rum desert. AFP

Looking around at the majestic dunes and stunning rock formations of Wadi Rum – where Peter O’Toole was filmed riding his horse in the 1962 epic “Lawrence of Arabia” – Parmentier said the landscapes she rode through were “amazing”.

The race finished in front of the famous rock-carved Treasury at Petra, where scenes from the 1989 Hollywood blockbuster Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade were shot.

“I think all the photos we can take will never describe a quarter of what we see here,” Parmentier said.

The Covid-19 pandemic badly dented Jordan’s tourism industry, which represented over a tenth of its GDP.

The race had been postponed due to coronavirus travel restrictions, and the fact it finally went ahead was seen by tour guide Mohamed Saleem as early evidence of a recovering tourism sector.

“Everyone here is happy,” he said. “The pandemic affected us a lot, and we lost our income . . . I hope that such races will attract the attention of tourists and bring them back.”


  • Ministry taking steps over Thai ‘replica’ of Angkor Wat

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has dispatched experts to inspect the ongoing construction of a temple in Wat Phu Man Fah, located in Thailand’s Buriram province. This temple appears to be a replica of Cambodia’s renowned Angkor Wat. The ministry said

  • Ream base allegations must end, urges official

    A senior government official urges an end to the allegations and suspicions surrounding the development of Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, now that Prime Minister Hun Manet has addressed the issue on the floor of the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78). Jean-Francois Tain, a geopolitical

  • PM to open new Siem Reap int’l airport December 1

    Prime Minister Hun Manet and Chinese leaders would jointly participate in the official opening of the new Chinese-invested Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport on December 1. The airport symbolises a new page in the history of Cambodian aviation, which will be able to welcome long-distance flights to

  • CP denied registration documents by ministry

    The Ministry of Interior will not reissue registration documents to the Candlelight Party (CP). Following a September 21 meeting between ministry secretary of state Bun Honn and CP representatives, the ministry cited the fact that there is no relevant law which would authorise it to do

  • Minimum wage set at $204, after Sep 28 vote

    The minimum wage for factory workers in the garment, footwear and travel goods industries for 2024 has been decided at $204 per month, with the government contributing $2. Following several negotiation sessions, the tripartite talks reached an agreement during a September 28 vote, with 46 of 51 votes supporting the $202 figure.

  • Cambodian diaspora laud Manet’s UN Assembly visit

    Members of the Cambodian diaspora are rallying in support of Prime Minister Hun Manet’s forthcoming visit to the 78th UN General Assembly (UNGA 78) in the US’ New York City this week. Their move is an apparent response to a recent call by self-exiled former