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Feat without equal

Jalal Bin Thaneya recalls the emotional journey of walking 2,000 kilometres to Makkah from Abu Dhabi — to raise funds for children with special needs

  • These are my first steps into Saudi Arabia. The road from here on is very narrow — just 1.4 metres wide, so itImage Credit: Supplied
  • My shadow is my only companion! This photograph says it all — about the extreme kind of desolate landscape oneImage Credit: Supplied
  • This photograph is kind of an extension of the previous one. The camera pulls back to show you the big pictureImage Credit: Supplied
  • I think I am looking sad in this photograph because I have taken my boots off. I look downbeat. When you wear Image Credit: Supplied
  • I am with two police officers, about 200 kilometres after the gas station. They were fascinated with my decisiImage Credit: Supplied
  • Ah, symbolism rears its head again! This ‘Exit’ sign worked in many ways for me. It was telling me that after Image Credit: Suppplied
  • I am at an archaeological site. I don’t know what era it belongs to or who were the people who lived here. ButImage Credit: Supplied
  • This is another Yahya composition. This one is through the doorway of an abandoned home. It looked very old, pImage Credit: Supplied
  • It is about 3.30pm. The sun is relenting just a bit in its heat. Once again, I am just a speck. The road is noImage Credit: Supplied
  • Nightfall in the desert, the headlights of a car and me in the spotlight! Night or day, the essential nature oImage Credit: Supplied
  • I am in Ihram, three days away from Makkah.This was difficult, this stretch. I had about 145 kilometres tImage Credit: Supplied
  • This is one of my favourite photographs. I had finally reached my destination.This photo was taken beforeImage Credit: Supplied
Weekend Review

When he set out in December last year to raise funds for the children of the Dubai Centre for Special Needs, 25-year-old Emirati Jalal Bin Thaneya did what comes to him naturally — walk for a cause. He had already undertaken such endeavours thrice before: His first walk was across the seven Emirates in 2007. His second was a climbing tour de force of Emirates Towers in 2008 and then in 2009, he crossed the Rubh Al Khali (Empty Quarter) on foot.

Bin Thaneya’s feet have always lent him excellent support as he has powered on to raise funds for organisations supporting people with special needs. A graduate in business studies from the Middlesex University, Dubai, the campaigner in Bin Thaneya came to the fore in his college years. As he puts it, “The pursuit of academics alone raised the challenge of doing something else with my life.”
So he charted a course for himself that was inextricably linked with movement. Because, people with special needs — the section of society he is deeply concerned about — are the most challenged by the issues of movement and mobility, among other things.

Bin Thaneya’s endeavours are not for the faint-hearted. And when he accomplishes one, he raises the bar for the next. His recently concluded mission — a walk to Makkah, Saudi Arabia, from Ruwais, Abu Dhabi, over a staggering 2,000 kilometres — was yet another example of this young man’s indomitable spirit.

The journey of 2,000 kilometres was covered in 50 days (from December 11, 2011, to January 29, 2012), over varied terrain and in constantly changing physical and mental conditions. But in the end, it was worth it.
Back in Dubai, Bin Thaneya picks a few of the more memorable moments of his remarkable journey as captured in the photographs taken by his vehicular back-up man, Yahya Al Hoot.