DUBAI, 18th January 2018: A caravan of camel riders from diverse cultures embarked for the first time from the ‘Empty Quarter’ in Abu Dhabi, a harsh desert area in the far south of the UAE yesterday (17th January 2018) morning, in their journey to live an extraordinary experience of real Emirati heritage.
The 15 participants in the fourth edition of the ‘Camel Trek’ received training in camel riding by the organizers Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC), before embarking on what has become the flagship event in HHC’s annual program. The camel caravan camped overnight in the Western region of Abu Dhabi on Tuesday before setting off across the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass.
Welcoming the participants at the launch of the fourth annual ‘Camel Trek’, Hind Bin Demaithan Al Qemzi, Director of Events at HHC, dubbed them ‘Desert Knights’, for their determination to undergo a rare experience that requires great composure, endurance and patience.
“The ‘Camel Trek’ continues to explore the desert trails just like how people did in the past. In this edition, however, the ‘Camel Trek’ is taken to a new level compared to previous years. Past editions were considered integral to test ways and means for future treks. The past versions were planned alongside cities and populated villages and thus close to the areas of supplies necessary for the trip, whether it be electricity, water or food supply. This year’s trip, is from ‘Rub Al Khali’ or the so-called ‘Empty Quarter’, which is known in history for its harshness and its distinct desert environment that is devoid of any life,” said Hind Bin Demaithan Al Qemzi.
The camel caravan will travel about 200 kilometers through the ‘Empty Quarter’ in the southern part of Abu Dhabi of the United Arab Emirates.
“This is the first trip of its kind in the region because it will cut across areas that were rarely travelled by camel caravans in the past due to the high sand dunes of up to 300 meters in addition to some rugged terrain. However, the journey has been undertaken after careful study and planning for several weeks to chart the camel caravan route,” she said.
“In order to ensure the safety of the participants, we have taken all necessary measures, including the appointment of a ‘paramedic’ to provide medical services and first aid if necessary, and the expertise of several desert navigational experts, including the Chief Executive Officer at HHC, Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook. We have used their extensive experience in identifying the trails and have provided all equipment and supplies sufficient to enable the caravan to pass through the ‘Empty Quarter’ and to go to the areas near the villages,” added Hind Bin Demaithan Al Qemzi.
The fourth edition of the ‘Camel Trek’, organized by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center, saw 15 participants, including 6 women and 9 men, from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, United Kingdom, France, Algeria, Syria, Pakistan, Malaysia and Ukraine. One of the women participating in the 2018 ‘Camel Trek’ is Anna Dudzinska from Polish media, a last-minute entrant who aims to record her journey through the picturesque desert.
The camel caravan which began in Liwa will cover an estimated daily distance of 50 kilometers returning to the Heritage Village at Global Village in Dubai on January 26th, a day ahead of the earlier schedule since the participants travelled to Abu Dhabi on Tuesday to get familiar with the environment and conditions.
One of the participants, Fatima Khirani, a 25-year-old Algerian who has been in Dubai for two years, said she had decided to get rid of her mobile phone during the 11-day trip. “I want to live this heritage journey in full detail. I left an emergency number at Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center if my family needed to communicate with me, but I did not want to waste my time on the phone on this trip and instead fully enjoy HHC’s hospitality and heritage,” said Fatima who was driven to join this ‘Camel Trek’ because of her love for camels and the desert.
She explained that her colleagues encouraged her to participate because she is fond of adventure in the various countries she visits. Her family in Algeria also encouraged her to participate because she descended from Bedouin origins, although she lives in the sophisticated city of Oran. “Our ancestors lived a nomadic life. This is an opportunity for our present generation to live this life. I know how to ride camels, but this is the first time I have been on a journey that extends so many days,” said Fatima, who is employed in Dubai as a Real Estate consultant.
“We thank the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center for organizing this ‘Camel Trek’ and we look forward to experience a lot of beautiful things in the coming days,” she said.
Mila Kladova from Ukraine cancelled her vacation in Italy to spend time in the desert by joining the ‘Camel Trek’.
“My colleague told me about the trek and that was about the time I was going to spend my annual holiday in Italy. I decided to cancel my vacation in Italy and preferred to participate in the Camel Trek,” said the 30-year-old Ukrainian, who has been in Dubai for two years. “It seems strange to my friends, but when I tell them what I do here and how I live every day, they see how lucky I am to have this adventure.”
Mila revealed that the first day of camel riding training here coincided with her birthday. “It was the most beautiful gift on my birthday. Trying this experience on my first day in the New Year has given me more strength in my life. I have never seen or tried to deal with camels. This trip gives me the opportunity to learn a lot about camels and the nature of heritage life here,” she said.
Mila, who works for a real estate development company in Dubai, said this ‘Camel Trek’ opens wide horizons for her to learn new things. She also expressed her desire to experience the Emirati hospitality and culture.
Notes to editors:
The riders are trained to travel within the camel train or caravan, to move in a single line from one place to another according to the route plan which is prepared in advance by a competent team and the leader of the caravan, and have to satisfy certain criteria that would make them eligible to participate in the arduous trek.
A camel train or caravan is a series of camels carrying passengers and/or goods on a regular or semi-regular service between points. Although they rarely travelled faster than the walking speed of a man, camels’ ability to withstand harsh conditions made them ideal for communication and trade in the desert areas of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula for centuries, though they could only travel on routes with sufficient sources of food and water.