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37th Gulf News Fun Drive: watch all the action from a memorable day of dune bashing

Around 3,000 offroading enthusiasts in 800 vehicles braved the chill to take on the mighty dunes

  • Fun Drive participants on board 800 vehicles negotiated a mix of terrain — wadis, gravel patches, steep climbsImage Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Virendra Saklani
  • Participants in the Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive pack their bags.Image Credit: Virendra Saklani
  • A scene of the open-air breakfast at the desert camp of the Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive 2018 early on SatuImage Credit: Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Bindu Rai/Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News
  • Image Credit: Bindu Rai/Gulf News

This year, the 37th Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive took place in the UAE desert and ended in Umm Al Quwain.

Around 3,000 people in 800 four-wheel vehicles tested their desert driving skills as they took part in one of the longest running off-road events in the UAE.

Here's how it happened.

Day 2 Coverage

10am

The fun drive has come to an end. Spirits were high the entire time and everyone had an exciting weekend dune bashing, exploring the desert and making new friends.

The annual two-day event was held at the UAE Motorplex Umm Al Quwain with a warm breakfast, completion of formalities and a safety debriefing by the marshals.

 

Breakfast time

7.30am

After last night's desert party marked by live entertainment, cutting of a massive cake, fireworks, a Tanoura and belly dancer's performance, the participants woke up for the second day to feasted on sumptous breakfast.

After breakfast, young and old alike took to the dunes on foot to enjoy the cool early morning desert clime.

7am

There's another gruelling drive today that will end at another camp in Umm Al Quwain.

Are they calling it a day?

Not so... most are pushing through with the drive until the end? The 3,000 people in 800 four-wheel vehicles are keen to complete it.

Follow our coverage.

Sponsors

The success of the Fun Drive over the past 32-years has been made possible by the support of a number of organisations and sponsors. These include: The main sponsor of the event is Al Futtaim Motors (Toyota). Checkpoint sponsors are OrientTours, Pringles, Laban Up, Lacnor, TOTAL, Oasis and Wheels.
 

Day 1 Coverage

9.30pm

Here's the Tanoura dance at the Fun Drive.

8:30pm

The fun continues at the camp site with amazing shows and performances, including desert drumming! 

7:30pm

Everyone at the Fun Drive is enjoying the delicious dinner buffet.

7pm

People are already lining up for the sumptous dinner buffet at the camp site.

6pm

One of the attractions at the Fun Drive is a Toyota obstacle course, which takes you through several different simulations of desert terrain. We are about to ride a land cruiser up an axle twister and a hill climb.

5.45pm

People have started coming into the camp for some evening activities. The crowd is starting to thicken at the camp site. They share some of their experiences with us.

It's time to camp! Participants head to base

Watch these off-roaders put on a show at the camp

Vehicles make their way to the final camp

Watch the action at the Gulf News Fun Drive


Top pictures from Gulf News Fun Drive 2018

3.40pm

Several vehicles now heading through final desert drive before they reach camp.

2.30pm

We are now driving through the wadi. The floor is quite rocky, making it a very bumpy and exciting ride. We’re sorrounded by mountains and tonnes of Arabian palm trees. The weather is great with clear skies, cool breezes and sunshine.

Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

2pm

Vehicles are now headed into the next phase of the fun drive as we head into the mountains of Ras Al Khaimah

Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

1.30pm

The drive to checkpoint five was a quick one, since the terrain was very flat. We replenished ourselves with some juice and inflated our tyres ready to get to the Wadi.

1.15pm 

We have now passed the lacnor checkpoint and are entering a gravel desert. This area is more flat and has hardly any dunes. We are heading to the mountains and into the Wadi.

Photo: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

1pm 

We’ve stopped again at one of the steepest dunes in the desert.  We are getting ready to watch cars take on the challenge of such a steep dune. 
Spoiler: it wasn’t much of a challenge.

12.30pm

We’ve stopped deep in the desert perched up on a dune watching as cars come by and perform dune tricks. This area seems to be a popular spot for drivers to show off their desert driving skills.

12.15pm

We are now in an area with very soft sand, where multiple cars are getting stuck in the sand. Many marshals have stopped by to help people who are stuck by pulling them out or guiding them with specific instructions on how to get themselves free.

Multiple cars stuck in a pocket. Photo: Pankaj Sharma

11.45am

We’ve made a quick pitt stop deep in the desert between checkpoint three and four. This is a perfect spot to capture cars coming down one of the very steep dunes.

11.30am

The weather is perfect to hit the dunes. Shebaun Mohammed Sherief tells his story of how he signed on for the fun drive while holidaying in Georgia.

11am 

We’ve just passed our third check point. Three more checkpoints to go until we reach the campsite. The weather is fantastic and the dunes are high.

10.50am

Check out this cool fort at the second check point of the Gulf News Fun Drive

10.15am

A family from RAK talks about their fun drive experience. They have been taking part in this event for over 6 years now.

10am 

At the moment we are deep in the desert, dune bashing and camel watching. The weather is perfect and spirits are high as people zoom past our car cheering and dancing to their stereos.

While another car is stuck in the distance, the vista is breathtaking.

"It's fun!" Despite getting stuck in the sand, these participants are cheery and having a great time.

9.30am 

We have arrived at the first checkpoint, Orient Tours, who were handing out great goodie bags.

Photo: Bindu Rai/Gulf News

9.15am

Fun Drive organisers have mapped out the routes in the desert perfectly. After every 200 metres you’ll see little signs pointing you in the right direction, so no one strays off the tracks or gets lost.

Look out for these little signs along the routes. Photo: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Marshals help out a participant that got stuck in the sand. Video: Bindu Rai/Gulf News

9am

The journey through the desert continues. We are lucky to have a very clear day without any dust in the air. Visibility is great and skies are blue. Until now we haven’t seen any animals. It’s a peaceful day in the desert.

Video: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Near check point No 2. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

8.30am

Off they go: The first group of vehicles were flagged off from the starting point by Shaikh Marwan Bin Rashid Al Mualla, Chaiman of Emirates Motorplex and Rajeev Khanna, Commercial Director at 8.20am setting in motion the 2018 Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive. 

Video: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Heading the first caravan was off road aficionado Shaikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, driving a specially designed armoured jeep followed by souped up Dodge Ram and Ford Super Duty.

“This is really exciting and every year the Fun Drive just gets bigger and better. We are happy to see so many people supporting the event every year, making it a resounding success,” said Rajeev Khanna, ahead of the flag off.

Video: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

8.00am

About 800 cars getting ready for the flag off 

Video: Yousra Zaki/Gulf News

Cars are headed for the flag off. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

7.45am

Don't forget to download the app! 

The Fun Drive has a special tracking app, to assist participants along the way.
The app, available on both the Apple and Android app stores, will track participants during their journey through the desert.

Using mobile data connectivity, the app helps marshals keep track of each driver so they know straight away if anyone hits trouble.

7.30am

Real action is about to begin.  Tyres are being deflated and marshals are preparing their four wheel drives for the desert

Even the kids have been put on tyre deflating duty. Photo: Bindu Rai/Gulf News

7.15am

After completing check-in formalities, and having a sumptuous breakfast the participants collected their goodies — including a case of water per car, one goody bag per car and lunch boxes for all passengers in the car. 

7.00am

Fun Drive participants enjoy a delicious breakfast in the desert to the tune of Happy! Food includes croissants, sausages and scrambled eggs.

Breakfast is served. Video: Bindu Rai/Gulf News

Participants enjoying their breakfast. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

6am

Excitement is already building for the Fun Drive. 

Morning at the Emirates Motorplex. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Pringles man entertains the crowd. Video: Bindu Rai/Gulf News

 

With inputs from Yousra Zaki, Deputy Editor – Guides, Bindu Rai, Deputy Editor – Tabloid, Shafaat Shahbandari, Staff Reporter


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