Dubai: It's that time of year again when thousands of Gulf News readers drive to the desert to conquer the sand dunes with their four-wheel drives.
This year, more than 600 4x4s will scale the high and low sand dunes in the Liwa desert region for the 31st Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive. A stretch of 300km — the longest in the Fun Drive's 26-year history — awaits adrenaline junkies and families in this annual adventure.
Two days before the much-anticipated event, Gulf News spoke to the sponsors about how people can have twice the fun with the technology and product offerings in the market today.
Al-Futtaim Motors, Toyota, which has sponsored the Fun Drive for 22 years, will once again be the main sponsor. With its extensive range of Sports Utility Vehicles such as Land Cruiser, Land Cruiser Prado, FJ Cruiser, to name a few, Toyota has become synonymous with outdoor adventure, whether desert dune riding or rocky off-roading.
"Toyota, exclusively distributed in the UAE by Al-Futtaim Motors, is a brand that has associated itself with the UAE's outdoor life since its early introduction to the UAE in the ‘50s," Simon Frith, managing director of Al-Futtaim Motors, said.
"To add to the adventure that Land Cruiser and other Toyota 4x4s can offer, we at Al-Futtaim Motors Toyota launched two years back our first Land Cruiser Xtreme to provide exceptional off-road performance. The idea then developed and we recently upgraded our Xtreme range to include the modified FJ Cruiser and Hilux Xtreme models."
But going on an off-road adventure won't be fun if the participants have worries in mind. Getting insurance when engaging in adventure sports such as off-road driving could be a problem for many, but this is where AXA steps in.
"Desert off-road enthusiast in the UAE can avail cover under AXA's motor perfect comprehensive policy in the event of an accident in the desert including vehicle recovery assistance," said M. Rajendran, country manager of AXA. "We ensure that they can continue [the] exciting journey with complete peace of mind when insured with AXA."
While the fun drivers are miles from home, connectivity is of high importance.
But smartphones that can't cope with the ruggedness of the desert during this day-long adventure could be a nuisance. Motorola said they have the answer.
"We give them Motorola Defy which is a smartphone and also [a] rugged device for the desert. It's dustproof, waterproof, shatterproof and has no issues on everyday wear and tear," said Mahmoud Sayed Ahmad, marketing head of Motorola Mobility. "They can go on living an adventure without having to worry about falls, water, and sand."
This year's Fun Drive has been made possible through the support of Al-Futtaim Motors, Toyota, AXA, Al Masaood Bridgestone, Dubai Duty Free, Motorola, Nescafe, Orient Travel and United Arab Bank, 3M Protected. Danube Buildmart, Al Ain Water, Alco, Byrne, DAW Ironman 4x4, E-Max, IATC, Intersport, UAE Exchange and NMC Health care and Liwa Hotel. MainStage Music and Events will handle the entertainment while Mafraq Hotel in Abu Dhabi will handle catering for the entire event. The Fun Drive is also being held with the support of the Abu Dhabi Motor Club.