Published: 20:44 January 9, 2018 by Shafaat ShahbandariStaff Reporter SMALLMEDIUMLARGEDubai: The 2018 Overnighter Fun Drive begins this Friday, carrying forward the legacy of exploring the natural wonders of the UAE for the 37th time over the past three decades.What began in 1986 as a day event to introduce the residents to the dunes of the country, has now become an annual attraction that hundreds of enthusiasts eagerly await.And like all the successful journeys, the three decades of hosting such arduous trips wouldn’t have been possible without the support of some of our loyal sponsors, many of whom have been on the road with Gulf News since the beginning.Al Futtaim Motors — Toyota, the main sponsors of the event have been supporting Fun Drive since 1987 and have been key partners in this amazing experience.Speaking about this unforgettable journey together, Ahmad Ali Mohammad, Marketing operations manager at Al Futtaim Motors, said: “We have been in this relationship since 1987 and our bond has grown stronger with every trip. We have been part of this journey when the starting point of the Fun Drive was Shaikh Zayed Road. The idea behind the trip is something we strongly relate to and believe in. Part of our objectives is to show the customers the culture and natural environment of the UAE.”He added that the trip this year, which begins in Umm Al Quwain, will be a challenge, giving drivers a good opportunity to test their skills.“We would like the participants to enjoy the trip, while driving in a safe and secure environment, supported by highly experienced marshals,” he said.This year the Fun Drive will start at the UAE Motorplex in Umm Al Quwain, returning to the northern emirates after three years exploring other parts of the country.Another key sponsor, whose support has been important in keeping the participants hydrated for nearly two decades, is Oasis.“We are proud to support an event that allows people to get in touch with nature, as this is the best opportunity for people to appreciate the importance of protecting the oasis we call home. We want to help by educating and encouraging people towards more eco-friendly behaviour so that we can enjoy the rich and fragile beauty of the earth for many years to come,” said Farah Hegazy, Assistant Brand Manager, Oasis.A challenging drive, the course will go through many exciting sand and hill sections, offering scenic views.One of the pioneers of the professional desert safaris in the country, Orient Travels has also been part of the journey for a long time.“Orient Travels shares a warm and long relationship with Gulf News. As industry leaders we touch the lives of UAE’s residents in many important ways. Orient Tours pioneered professional desert safaris in 1982. Therefore, its truly special to be associated with UAE’s off road enthusiasts. UAE residents are fortunate to have access to a combination of natural elements like sea, sand and mountains, which they must take full advantage of,” said Divyesh Kumar, Senior Manager- Business Development, Orient Tours.Another important supporter of Fun Drive, who keeps the energy levels of the participants up is Laban Up.“As a brand Laban Up encourages people to stay original and stay true to themselves, its all about sharing the local culture in a refreshing way. The very nature of the Fun Drive event happens to be an embodiment of this motto, bringing the people we love together, enjoying a fun experience and discovering hidden gems and landscapes of UAE,” said Walid Rebbah, product manager, Laban Up.Total has been associated with Fun Drive for more than five years and plays a crucial role in keeping the event lubricated.“This event has all the elements of fun, excitement and thrill coupled with a wonderfully unique experience in the dunes of the UAE. The UAE with its natural environment is one of the best places to have a stress free life, thus its important to enjoy it,” said Rajesh V, Marketing Manager at Total Marketing ME.Other sponsors, include Lacnor Pringles, Byrne, Denim, Flow Composite Manufacturing FZC, TORC The Offroad Company and Wildcraft. Catering is provided by Foodcraft and JA Resorts & Hotels and entertainment by Ciel Marketing.Official hotel is Barracuda Beach Resort UAQ.Fun Drive numbers are sponsored by Amity University. Total is the Lubricants Sponsor and BF Goodrich are the Official Tyre Sponsor. The Fun Drive is being held with the support of IATC and the Emirates Motorplex, UAQ.