Dubai: One man; his motorcycle; and 22 countries in 132 days.
The cause: A cancer ward for children in Palestine.
That’s the mission that’s consumed Palestinian-Jordanian Wissam Al Jayyoussi’s life for the past few months. A biker, entrepreneur and do-gooder, the Dubai resident spent the last year looking for a charity to work with for his second biking mission. Having already done 36 European countries in 60 days to raise money for special needs children, the 37-year-old needed a new challenge, a new reason to inspire him, a new cause...
That cause came in the form of funds needed to build a cancer ward for children in Palestine. It’s a cause that made Al Jayyoussi leave his friends, family and new bride behind and take to the road alone, crossing dangerous territory and empty deserts
It’s a journey that’s taken him from the sandy deserts of the UAE through neighbouring Oman, on to Iran, into Pakistan, then India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz-stan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Mong-olia and China.
In the next five weeks, he must head further southeast into Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and finally Singapore.
“Compared to Europe, the trip through Asia is so much more challenging,” Al Jayyoussi told XPRESS from his tent in the Chinese mountains.
“To cross 40 European countries, I only needed a total of nine visas. For Asia, I need 22 visas in order to go through 22 countries. Moreover, countries such as China and Vietnam do not accept motorcycles in and out of their country, so I had to pay $15,000 (Dh55,095) just to get my bike through.”
Despite the expenses incurred, it’s a journey that’s worth its weight in gold for Al Jayyoussi. “In just three months, I’ve already raised Dh700,000 for the children. And that gives me the motivation to go on,” he says.
Since all his expenses are self-incurred, the adventurer spends most nights sleeping in a tent, and only occasionally splashes out on hotels.
Luxuries are not a commodity he allows himself to get used to, driving an average of 14 hours per day, in order to reach a new country every few days.
“When the roads are good, I can cover at least 800km a day. But that isn’t always possible,” says Al Jayyoussi. “In Mongolia, riding through the Gobi Desert, it took 14 hours just to cover 100km.”
As the biker continues his journey, gathering funds and spreading awareness of the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF), the charity behind the cancer hospital, his own popularity has grown in leaps and bounds. At the start of his Goodwill Journey, Al Jayyoussi had 500 fans on Facebook, following his escapes through the different countries.
Today, that number has welled to over 4,000.
“That shows me that more and more people care about what the children in Palestine are going through.
“And that awareness of their existence, their plight and suffering, is just as important as gathering money for them.”
Next up for this extreme adventurer? A charity ride through Canada, the United States and Latin America.
“But first I need to conquer the roads of South-East Asia,” he says.