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Three-member team to recreate Thesiger's journey

posted on 06/10/2011: 654 views



Al Ain - A British adventurer and two Emiratis will recreate the epic journey of famous desert explorer Sir Wilfred Thesiger to mark the UAE's 40th National Day.

Adrian Hayes, Ghafan Mohammad Al Jabry, and Saeed Rashid Al Mesafry will trek through the Empty Quarter with camels from Salalah, a city in Oman, to Abu Dhabi.

They will rely on basic provisions, nature and Arabian hospitality to survive the 40-day journey that will cover 1,500km. The expedition has been named "Footsteps of Thesiger".

"We'll survive by means as close as possible to the methods used by Thesiger and his companions and travel from village to village," said Hayes, a former British Army Gurkha Officer, here at a press conference.

He said the team will leave for Salalah on October 25, and the expedition will start from October 30 reaching Abu Dhabi on December 12.

Hayes and his companions — who are also soldiers, in the UAE military — will avoid the midday sun by travelling early in the mornings until 10am, and then rest before resuming after 3pm.

They expect to cover an average of 35km per day. They will be wearing traditional Arabian dresses.

Desert terrain

The journey will take place against some of the most beautiful yet harshest desert environments on the planet.

The team has seven camels and will travel from Salalah to Mughshin, and enter the UAE at Umm Zamoul. They will then go to Liwa and Al Ain and finish in Abu Dhabi.

The team, Hayes said, will pass through the green hills of Al Qara Mountains in Oman, then move on through the landscape of southern Dhofar and trek across the gravel plains before reaching the sands of the Rub Al Khali or the Empty Quarter.

The travellers will encounter some tough survival challenges in terrain with sand dunes that can reach more than 250 meters in height, and hyper-arid areas where temperatures can cross 50 degrees Celsius.

"We'll not use modern devices such as GPS, relying instead on a compass, a hunting rifle, basic provisions, and some shelters," said Hayes.

The idea of the expedition, he said, came to him when he was serving in the Omani army some 20 years ago. "I started working on the project some two years ago," he added.

Support for expedition

The expedition is supported by the Abu Dhabi Culture and Heritage Authority (ADCHA), UAE Armed Forces, and Omani ministry of culture, he said.

The adventure is a way to honour Arabian culture and heritage as well as Thesiger, known as Mubarak Bin London, who crossed the Empty Quarter twice between 1945 and 1950. Thesiger died some eight year ago.

Speaking on the occasion, the Emirati team member Saeed Al Mesafry said the expedition is will promote the culture and heritage of Abu Dhabi and he was proud to be closely involved in an event that forms part of the UAE's National Day celebrations.

"When the opportunity arose, I knew it was a challenge I was eager to undertake," he said.

Ghafan Al Jabry, the other Emirati member of the team, said: "With a strong background in camel handling and desert survival, we will work closely with Adrian to ensure the trek closely follows that of Thesiger's in the 1940s."

Hayes plans to write a book at the end of the travel while a film team will also accompany the expedition to make a documentary. – Gulf News

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