Dubai: Despite suffering a series of setbacks, Jalal Bin Thaneya hopes to complete his gruelling walk across all seven emirates in Fujairah on Sunday.
The 30-year-old Emirati started out on December 20 from Al Ghweifat, near the UAE-Saudi border, to raise awareness about people with special needs.
The original plan was to complete the journey in seven days — and clinch a Guinness World Record in doing so — but problems with logistics and food forced him to slow down.
“But Guinness World Records haven’t disqualified me yet. They told me ‘you keep going’. Anyway, it’s about raising awareness on people with special needs and I’m determined to finish my walk,” Bin Thaneya told Gulf News by phone on Friday afternoon, by when he had reached near Rashidiya metro station in Dubai.
He said he expected to be in Umm Al Quwain by Saturday morning and in Fujairah by Sunday.
“I’m anxious to finish this. You start to break down towards the end, physically and mentally.”
By Friday afternoon, Bin Thaneya said he had covered roughly 600km on foot, alternating between walking, jogging and running. His initial one-vehicle escort that was carrying food and clothes encountered problems on the road, leaving him low on food. Bin Thaneya also found himself traversing through roadworks and construction sites, making the trek more “painful”.
“I’m going to have to cut back on rest and sleep and take more caffeine — but that makes you feel sick … I’ll probably be along the highway, under the skies, when the New Year comes in. The stars will be a good show and at least I’ll be doing what I like,” he said.
Bin Thaneya is no stranger to extreme feats. He had pushed himself to the limit also in the past to draw attention to issues facing children with special needs. The UAE national had earlier said that children with special needs should be included in regular schools as much as possible and have more specialist care centres as well.
To raise awareness, he has walked 2,000km from Abu Dhabi to Makkah, covered all seven emirates on foot (in 18 days), climbed the stairs of 100 Dubai skyscrapers and walked the desolate Empty Quarter.
But his latest feat has been his hardest.
Bin Thaneya said he is blistered, low on morale, exhausted, sunburnt, hungry — and frustrated at motorists who “drive dangerously near you, don’t give you way, and look down upon you”.
He aims to cover roughly 75km a day in order to make it to Fujairah by Sunday, finishing the last 250km stretch or so.
“When I see the sea on the corniche there, that’s it, I’ll finally be done,” he said.