DUBAI, 11th January 2018: The Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center (HHC) announced that the 2018 edition of the ‘Camel Trek’ in the UAE will see 15 participants from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, United Kingdom, France, Algeria, Syria, Pakistan, Malaysia and Ukraine.
Organized and supervised by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center, the fourth edition of the ‘Camel Trek’ in the UAE will start on January 17th, 2018 and continue for 11 days culminating at the Heritage Village of Global Village in Dubai on January 27th. The marathon expedition will cover a distance of about 500 km crossing a number of desert areas in the UAE on a journey of a lifetime.
Hind Bin Demaithan Al Qemzi, Director of Events Management at HHC, welcomed all participants in this annual journey which has become very popular among men and women. The group of five women representing France, Algeria, UK and Ukraine as well as the young men who have confirmed their participation started training since the beginning of December last year.
“The aim of the ‘Camel Trek’ is to reflect the civilization of the United Arab Emirates through an integrated journey through the desert sands. It is about life in the past based on the foundations of cooperation and the distribution of tasks responsibly between individuals to work in the camp,” she said.
“The HHC provides tents, food and other equipment necessary to make the experience memorable by all standards for the participants, including motivating the individual’s ability to endure and persevere in a spirit of co-existence with different nationalities representing diverse cultures, while working as a team,” she added.
Hind Bin Demaithan Al Qemzi said this year’s expedition will start from Liwa in the Western region to commemorate the ‘Year of Zayed’.
“In celebration of the ‘Year of Zayed’ and in celebration of the ‘Spirit of the Union’ and the social principles and foundations established by Sheikh Zayed in the hearts of Emiratis and his love for preserving the heritage of the UAE and the promotion of national identity, all of which are within HHC’s objectives, the caravan will start from Liwa in the Western region of Abu Dhabi. The journey may be more challenging than in previous years. The participants are being rained by professionals in order to get ready for living this experience of the past, crossing the sand dunes to Dubai,” she said.
The participants could not conceal their excitement at being selected to join the 2018 ‘Camel Trek’ in the UAE when some of them were interviewed by local and international media while going through training in Al Nakhra camel farm off Dubai-Al Ain Road on Wednesday.
Everyone is driven by their adventurous zeal to experience the Emirati culture and beauty of the UAE during the 2018 ‘Camel Trek’.
“I’m genuinely interested in the history of the UAE. I had followed this trek for the last four years through newspaper articles. Now my children are older and studying abroad so I finally had the opportunity to join the trek. I didn’t think they would choose me because I’m much older than others in the group,” said Nicola Mather, a mother of two, and who has been in the UAE since 2004.
“2018 is a very special year in the UAE (Year of Zayed). I’m really looking forward to seeing the beauty of the UAE and also to understand how people lived here 50 years ago. What they have achieved and the challenges and difficulties they faced,” said Nicola who went on a camel trip in Oman with her husband long time ago.
“I’m actually learning to ride camels now. I’ve been training for just over a month and the training is very important because camels are actually quite complicated creatures and quite difficult to ride,” said Nicola who has been riding horses as a child.
“I grew up riding horses. It’s very different. There is less control with camels because we have one rope not two reins; no saddle and stirrups. So far I haven’t fallen off. Every day I think this might be my day to fall,” quipped Nicola who described the training team as excellent. “I am absolutely in awe of his skills and courage. He has given me a lot of confidence.”
Nicola said this trip is different for everybody. “Personally the challenge is courage and endurance. I’ve been given a beautiful camel to ride. I’m really grateful for this opportunity. It is a very generous gesture,” said Nicola who has named her male camel Lawrence.
For Mila Kladova from Ukraine, everything will be a totally new experience.
“It’s my first experience. I have been living here for two years. Being Ukrainian everything is new for me here. I really wanted to try to be close to this culture. I grabbed this opportunity to be here and to do it like people before,” said Mila who works as a developer.
She even cancelled her vacation when she heard about this ‘Camel Trek’.
“It was amazing. I was planning my vacation to Europe when one of my friends called me and said there is some opportunity at HHC. I just applied and am so excited to get selected,” said Mila, 30, who loves swimming, basketball and tennis.
She recalled with delight about riding a camel during on her birthday on December 28.
“My first training here it was a kind of gift for me. I came here to celebrate my birthday. No one knew about it. I kept it silent but inside I was so happy. It was great my first experience being on a camel. I was so emotional. It was unbelievable,” said Mila who has named her camel Sugar.
“It’s amazing because what I found here is some of the words are similar in Emirati and Ukraine. I found one same word ‘sukr’ which means sugar. I chose it as my camel name because he is so sweet,” said Mila who speaks with her camel in Arabic.
“It will be easier for me. It seems to me he can understand some Arabic when I tell him Masha Allah, Yallah, my Jameeullah. I can understand basic words. I’m trying my best because I’m here for two years. It’s kind of respect to this country when you can speak a little bit basic words because this country gave me a lot of opportunities,” she said with gratitude.
Algerian Fatima Khirani, 25, driven by her love of camels and desert successfully applied through Instagram on the HHC website.
“I will be relaxed away from the city lifestyle. I will enjoy it because I will be nearby nature. I will also have a chance to meet people from different cultural background and share our experiences together,” said Fatima who has been employed in the Real Estate in Dubai for the last two years.
“I love camels and love the desert. I have learned how to feed them carrots and apple,” said Fatima, whose passion is horse riding, swimming and scuba diving.
Charlotte Sarrazin will be taking part in the ‘Camel Trek’ in the UAE for the third consecutive year, riding her own camel for the first time.
“Although this year’s trek was on my agenda, but I was not sure to do it because I opened a new restaurant in Abu Dhabi. I always wanted to do with my camel one day. I started training a little bit in summer and then stopped because of work. This was taking me a lot of time but they allowed me to do it,” said Charlotte who will be atop her eight-year-old former racing camel named ‘Zabi’ or gazelle.
“This is my first time with her and first time for her on this kind of trip. The challenge is huge because I’m not experienced enough to lead her. She is very strong because she has been doing racing,” said Charlotte who will be sharing her experience with others during the trek.
“I’ve learnt that every trip is different. This is why I’m happy to do it every year. Every route is different. The desert changes as well. People are different. You learn something new,” said Charlotte, 37, who wants members of the caravan to live the experience and disconnect from the world.
“You never disconnect in UAE. This trip is the only way where you can actually take your time to be in UAE and to disconnect with your work life and feel you are on holiday and doing something special,” she said.
Also returning will be Malaysian Muhamad Fansouri who took part in the 2016 ‘Camel Trek’.
“It’s his passion. My two and half year old daughter Fahima also loves camels,” said Muhamad’s wife Felisa.
“The main reason to come back is to rejuvenate the local culture. This time I think the weather will be the challenge and the route is longer,” said Muhamad who recalls going into the open desert with no view all around except sand.
The 2017 ‘Camel Trek’ comprised 13 camel riding enthusiasts from Oman, United States, Egypt, France, United Kingdom and the UAE, including five women. They were overwhelmed by the amazing once-in-a-lifetime journey where they travelled back in time and experienced the culture and tradition of the UAE.
Every year, the HHC appoints a group of camel riding professionals to train the participants in the ‘Camel Trek’. Since safety is paramount, the organizers HHC will provide back-up vehicles in case someone falls ill or for any emergency during the ‘Camel Trek’ where the riders will cover some 50 kilometers riding for about eight hours a day.
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.