Khaild Al Matrooshi at one of the Fun Drive events Image Credit: Khalid Al Matrooshi

Dubai: Even a surgery could not keep him from participating in the Gulf News Fun Drive. He says it is in his blood.

Sharjah resident Khalid Al Matrooshi has been participating in the Gulf News-organised event since 1995 and has many stories to share.

The most interesting one being when in 2014 he had a bariatric surgery. He had the surgery on a Thursday and was at the Fun Drive registration desk the next Friday.

Naheed Patel, Promotions Manager at Gulf News, even discouraged him for participating, keeping his health in mind. Speaking to Gulf News about the incident, he said: “Ms Naheed knew that I just got discharged from the hospital and she insisted that I shouldn’t participate. She did not agree until I brought her a permission from the hospital, so that I could participate.”Two weeks later, when he was at the Drive, he received several calls from Patel, checking in on his health.

“If my mobile was switched off, she would be very concerned. I met her at the camp later that day and once she saw me, she asked me: ‘Khalid are you okay? Come, I will take you to the hospital.’ I felt she is like my mother and she really is,” he added.

This connection is not limited to one member of the Gulf News staff. Al Matrooshi said that over time he had gotten to know many members of the organising team.

“Fun Drive has become like a habit for me and I cannot skip a single year. After 24 years of participation, I feel that the Fun Drive organisers have become part of my family. I almost know all of them including the marshals,” he added.

After his first Fun Drive in 1995, his friends started joining in. He is now the team leader of all his friends at the Drive. “Every year I have a minimum of 15 cars with me,” he said.

Things can get interesting, according to Al Matrooshi, because of the enthusiastic group of people he leads.

Al Matrooshi with his friends Image Credit: Khalid Al Matrooshi

“In the 24 years, I can tell you that I have reached the camp on time only four times. Not because I get lost, but because of these friends! Someone gets stuck, someone gets lost, someone has car problems ... I have to organise a crazy team.”

Two of his sons now join him on the Drive as well and have the date marked on their calendars.

“For the past four years, I am going to the Fun Drive with my sons. They now push me to go,” he added.

So, what makes him keep coming back to the annual event? Impeccable organisation, he says.

“I organise events, but I have never seen anything like the Gulf News Fun Drive. This is the best organisation of an event in the UAE. I have been participating in the Fun Drive for more than 24 years ago and Gulf News is organising this event may be for more than 35 years and to the organisers of this event I say: My hat’s off to you!”