Before meeting Fariah Alwagayan, I didn’t know what to expect. Most local professional athletes tend to be young whippersnappers who, despite their emotional maturity from being exposed to the spotlight still have a bright-eyed view of the world. The poised and seemingly ageless Fariah may exude a similar positivity, but there’s an elegant touch of experience and wisdom radiating from the soles of her well-traveled riding boots. She has definitely lived years to understand what it really takes to practice her passion, and the importance of the good fight that is essential to dream chasing.
However, bright eyes are on full display when Fariah talks about her dedication to horseback riding. Her everyday life is a fulfilling one, and we were lucky to get an hour of her time on an idle workweek. Where most of us drive home as fast as we can after a long day of work to be with our loved ones over a hot meal, Fariah’s life is a little bit different. “I’m at my day-job daily until 2:30 p.m., and then afterwards, I’m at the stables in Wafra with my horse, Al-Hout – training, learning and just riding. And that’s when I don’t have a tournament! A regular day for me ends at 8:30 p.m. if I’m lucky – it’s a hectic life, but I absolutely love it and wouldn’t give it up for the world.”
Fariah has always loved horses, since she was a small child and repeatedly kept pestering her parents to buy her a horse. “They would always egg me on when I’d ask when my horse was coming, but it never came!” she laughs. “I would ask them every single day, pester them and say that I told my classmates that my horse was coming soon, to which they would respond that I needed to be patient, and that the more I grew, the horse would inch closer to me.” This metaphorical horse was always present, in her constant passion for riding. She would ride wherever and whenever she had the chance to, and in 2008, she began to take it seriously. “When I first toyed with the idea of professional riding, it began with jumping. The lessons and training wouldn’t last very long in the more official stables, and I knew I needed more. So someone told me about a center based by the Saudi borders where riding is taken to extremes. They trained riders for a star-based system depending on the amount of kilometers accomplished in riding and endurance, starting from 80 KM. That is when I decided that this was the sport I wanted to immerse myself in.”
Immerse herself she did, and Fariah went on from jumping to becoming an award-winning professional rider, making her mark in competitions. Currently, she has surpassed a 100 KM distance in the Sheikh Mohammad Ben Rashed Al Maktoum Women’s Race in Dubai, has the title of being the only Kuwaiti who achieved 7th place in the Endurance tournament for 90 KM in Bahrain in March 2017, and has participated in the Verona World Cup Endurance Race alongside 300 riders and 33 countries for 120 KM, achieving two international stars with a top 20 placement. She still has her esteemed presence as the only Kuwaiti woman participating in the Endurance World Championship in Kentucky in 2018 to look forward to, but to for a Kuwaiti female athlete to achieve this venture, sponsorship is needed from certified companies or the government. Fariah is worthy of such endorsements, as the achievements mentioned don’t even cause a dent in her long list of experiences. She, as a Kuwaiti woman, holds the honorable title of being one of the few who keep bringing home something to be proud of.
“Developing this sport in Kuwait is what I am passionate about. What I love more than anything is to, as a woman, compete in both local and international tournaments only to proudly raise the Kuwaiti flag up high and achieve the impossible.” But for a woman, it’s difficult, and Fariah recognizes that. “I’ve fought my battle, and this is a time where I’m confidently doing something for myself. I want the women of Kuwait to know that they too, can achieve this without compromising their personal and familial values.”
To build on that, and to spread her positive ideology to the women of Kuwait, she also intends to establish an official riding center for women like herself to achieve what they never thought they’d be capable of. “Kuwait doesn’t endorse this sport like other countries in the Gulf do, to the point where people can make a living out of such athletics. In Kuwait, we do this for passion, on top of our regular jobs and lives. But that’s why whenever we achieve, it feels more amazing because these achievements shine through from exhaustion, dedication, and sacrificing our personal time. Women here have every right to be a part of that.” Believe us, this dream-chaser will make sure that they will be – because even though she has already achieved so much, as she puts it, “if I can inspire just one girl to go after what she wants like I did, doing it with respect and integrity, then I can call myself a winner.”
What do you most value in your friends?
They have to be honest, trusting and supportive. A friend should always have your back.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Achievements, especially with horseback riding. It can move me to tears.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing a loved one.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I can be hot-tempered, and I do get easily stressed out.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Making promises you can’t keep.
Which living person do you most admire?
What is your greatest extravagance?
First and foremost my horse, Al-Hout, who I would do anything for – but admittedly, shoes win once in a while.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
7amdillah and 3araftay?
What is it that you most dislike?
Depression. Sometimes you feel that life is unfair, but I think that it’s important to try and be positive no matter what.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I honestly can’t think of any! I like the talents I do have.
If you could have any job, what would it be?
I would’ve been great at marketing and advertising, but I ended up studying accounting instead.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
Placing 7th in Verona during the World Champion Cup, and when I won the Mohammad Ben Al Rashed Al Maktoum 100 KM race, as the only woman.
What is your most treasured possession?
My Allah necklace that my mother gave to me. I would be quick to replace it if it was ever lost, but I never take it off.
What is your most marked characteristic?
I love people and I’m personable. I love getting to know people.
Where would you most like to live?
Berlin – it’s like a smaller, cleaner New York! I feel that it’s so artsy, historic and filled with culture– what else do you need?
What are your favorite words to live by?
It’s never too late to achieve your dreams.
Keep updated on Fariah’s fascinating journey with Horse Endurance Riding by following her on Instagram @fare3a_alwagayan.