Dubai: One of the UAE’s biggest desert adventures will begin on Friday as around 2,500 enthusiasts set off on an eight-hour drive through the dunes and hills of the northern emirates.
A convoy of close to 800 off-road vehicles will be flagged off at 8am on Friday as the 37th edition of the Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive is set in motion.
Among the participants will also be off-road aficionado Shaikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, driving a very special vehicle. Watch out for his car, which is likely to cause a stir because of its sheer size and fittings.
The 2018 Overnighter Fun Drive, supported by Al Futtaim Motors — Toyota, will return to the Northern Emirates after three years, kicking off at the UAE Motorplex Umm Al Quwain.
Participants will begin arriving at the Emirates Motorplex from 6am, and after completing check-in formalities, will have breakfast, then collect their goodies — including a case of water per car, one goody bag per car and lunch boxes for all passengers in the car. The participants will then deflate vehicle tyres and line up for departure.
After a challenging drive through a carefully designed circular course that will take the caravan through many exciting sand and hill sections, offering scenic views, the convoy will head to the overnighter camp by 4pm.
Located in the Al Aqran region of Umm Al Quwain, the 37th edition will have one of the best camps in the history of the Fun Drive as it is located in the midst of scenic dunes.
Around 3,000 people will stay at the camp, including participants, marshals, officials, volunteers, sponsors and support teams.
Amenities at the camp include community tents, portaloos, food and beverages. There will be entertainment programmes, which include camel rides, DJ and live band, as well as a belly-dancing performance. There will also be plenty of activities with spectacular set-ups in the sponsors’ areas.
Following the overnight stay, breakfast will be served between 7 and 9am, after which the fun ends and participants will leave for their homes.
A team of 90 highly trained marshals will supervise the drive, including the Course Openers, who will depart at daybreak in a team of three cars and drive the route well ahead of others, checking that signs are in place and replacing any that may have got damaged or are missing.
A team of 78 Route Marshals will be along the drive to assist and guide participants, as required, followed by the Sweep Team, which is a convoy of five vehicles driving at the end of the entire convoy to ensure that no one is in trouble or lost.
Following the marshals is a team from IATC, who are responsible for recovery. They will drive the route well after the convoy and recover vehicles that are damaged or broken down. IATC will ferry these vehicles to the nearest tarmac — free of cost.
The Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive is supported by Al Futtaim Motors — Toyota, who are the main sponsors. Checkpoint sponsors include Laban Up, Lacnor, Oasis, Orient Tours, Orient Travel, Pringles, Total and Toyota. Support sponsors include Byrne, Denim, Flow Composite Manufacturing FZC, TORC The Offroad Company and Wildcraft. Catering is provided by Foodcraft and JA Resorts & Hotels. Official hotel is Barracuda Beach Resort UAQ.
Fun Drive numbers are sponsored by Amity University, Total is the lubricants sponsor and BF Goodrich is the official tyre sponsor. The Fun Drive is being held with the support of IATC and the Emirates Motorplex, UAQ.