A caravan of camel riders from diverse cultures on Thursday morning embarked for the first time from the ‘Empty Quarter’ in Abu Dhabi — a harsh desert area in the far south of the UAE — on 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 organisers, Hamdan Bin Mohammad Heritage Centre (HHC), before embarking on what has become the flagship event in the HHC’s annual programme. The camel caravan camped overnight in Al Dhafra region of Abu Dhabi on Tuesday before setting out across the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass, organisers said in a press release on Thursday.
Welcoming the participants at the launch, Hind Bin Demaithan Al Qemzi, director of Events at HHC, dubbed them as ‘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 the previous years,” she said.
“The past editions were considered integral to test ways and means for future treks. Those 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 Al Qemzi.
This edition saw 15 participants, including six women, from the UAE, Oman, the UK, 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 will travel about 200 kilometres through the Empty Quarter.
Al Qemzi said it 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 metres in addition to some rugged terrain.
However, she said, the journey has been undertaken after careful study and planning for several weeks to chart the caravan route.
“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,” added Al Qemzi.
The camel caravan, which began in Liwa, will cover an estimated daily distance of 50 kilometres and return to the Heritage Village at Global Village in Dubai on January 26.
One of the participants, Fatima Khirani, a 25-year-old Algerian who has been in Dubai for two years, said she has decided to get rid of her mobile phone during the 11-day trip.
A real estate consultant in Dubai, Khirani was encouraged by her colleagues and family in Algeria to participate because she descended from Bedouin origins, although she lives in the sophisticated city of Oran.
Mila Kladova from Ukraine cancelled her vacation in Italy to spend time in the desert by joining the ‘Camel Trek’.
“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,” said the 30-year-old Ukrainian, who has been in Dubai for two years.
Kladova revealed that the first day of camel riding training here coincided with her birthday. “It was the most beautiful gift on my birthday,” said Kladova, who works for a real estate development company in Dubai.