A group of eighteen galloping 1 1/4 life size bronze Arabian horses stand guard along the winding, palm-tree lined private avenue which leads to what can only be described as a palace: Al Qasr Hotel, situated at The Madinat in Dubai. This is the stuff that dreams are made of for any horsey type, like me…
Oh wait, you mean there is more? More sinew and taut tendon, flank and unyielding hindquarter? Indeed there is, for a group of eight double life size bronze abstract horse torsos also appear much to my rapture, as part of the fountain cradling the Porte-Cochere of the hotel.
The Palace – Al Qasr – plays it splendidly as the centrepiece of the The Madinat. Designed to reflect a Sheikh’s summer residence, it is grandiose and impressive in its elegant situation – elevated to provide a magnificent panorama of the Arabian Gulf. But its the unique approach via its long tree-lined avenue adorned with the sculpted Arabian horses that gives me pause.
A stunning statement of Dubai’s history is made – tribute to the thoroughbred which is synonymous with the region.
In 2003 South African sculptor Danie de Jager completed this installation for Al Qasr. Born in 1936 near the city of Johannesburg, and growing up in the African bushveld, the sculptor’s love for animals manifested early. At the age of 24 he commenced his career as fulltime sculptor and won his first important competition for a sculpture of a monument that very year.
In his career Danie de Jager completed more than 120 larger-than-life bronze sculptures depicting animals, both realistically rendered and in abstract.
Fortune struck Dubai, whose residents may, if it pleases them, deliberate over every pointed hoove, each distended artery and along the course of those fibrous contours the assembly of which forges the finest of anatomies, and declares the dominion of this magnificent creature, the Arabian horse.