Camel Trek 2021 HHC
29 people from 21 countries have joined the journey across the sands in the UAE Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Twenty-nine desert voyagers from 21 countries set off from Liwa Empty Quarter in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi at dawn on Thursday for the eighth annual Camel Trek, organised by Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Centre (HHC).

For 13 days, 29 camel trekkers will navigate 640km of the UAE desert to enjoy a unique experience, such as living life according to the old ways of the Bedouins, until they reach their final destination at the Expo 2020 Dubai site on December 21.

The caravan — the longest till date organised by HHC — was led by Abdullah Hamdan Bin Dalmook, CEO of HHC, who expressed his happiness with the high number of participants and the diversity of nationalities in the annual camel trek.

He added: “It is only fitting that the final destination of the camel trek is the Expo site, as the UAE has gathered the world at Expo 2020 Dubai. It is a matter of pride and honour that we showcase the UAE’s cultural heritage on the world’s biggest stage.”

Diverse group
Among the 29 participants are Emiratis Batool Hassan Ghaith, Hakima Hassan Ghaith, Khawla Al Blooshi and Saeed Mohammad Rais. They were joined by Howard Leedham from UK; Madawi Alahmad form Saudi Arabia; Andreas Wim Deges, Paulin Piesker, Emilia Piesker from Germany; Meriam Sehrewerdi from United States; Prijumon K Dominic, Bilal Gulammohiddin Palekar, and Ammar Ahmed from India; Nicola Bettio and Nicole Busetto from Italy; Joost Verploeg from The Netherlands; Mohamed Amehdar from France; Renate Antolkovich from Austria; Claudia Granberg from Nicaragua; Jana Vintrova from Czech Republic, Laura Ezzat from Estonia; Mariska Verploeg from Brazil; Monika Teresa from Poland; Ann Carine from Belgium; Silke Pfitzer from South Africa; David Pescador from Spain; Amina Samy from Egypt; Geul Bang from South Korea; and Nathaniel Alapide from The Philippines.

Desert route

The caravan will follow a prepared route and the camel trekkers will rest at camping stations in the middle of the desert. Participants are being provided with all necessary requirements by HHC for the entire duration of the voyage, including food, drink, individual tents and the camels that they are using for the journey.

Camel Trek 2021 HHC
The caravan along the way

Connecting with the past

Speaking to Gulf News before the expedition, Alapide said: “This voyage for me is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will surely never forget. I joined the camel trek to learn and understand more about the old ways of Bedouin life in the desert. Doing this trek is a way to connect with the past and also a way for me to forge camaraderie with other participants during the trek.”

Leedham, 63, from the UK, said: “I have had a huge interest in Emirati culture, but this camel trip will take it to a completely different dimension and I thank the HHC and the UAE for this wonderful experience.”

Rigorous training

According to HHC, “the participants underwent rigorous training at a camel farm in Dubai, months prior to the camel trek. During training, the participants developed a level of fitness and aptitude for the desert voyage. They did not only learn how to ride a camel, but were also trained on how to travel in a convoy and were familiarised with life in the desert. Everyone’s health is a priority and all safety and precautionary measures will be enforced”.