Dubai: The Fun Drive means many things to different people. To some, it is a place to meet others, to others, it is about conquering the desert.
For Yacoub Mohammad, a UAE national, it was the thrill of driving in the desert that made him join the drive at the age of 18, making him the youngest marshal ever.
“While studying in Dubai, I used to read the news about the drive and was curious about it. I always wanted to know more.”
But he was too young to make the cut. So after waiting patiently till he turned 18, and with a licence in hand, Mohammad joined the Fun Drive and has not looked back since.
A retired Emirates pilot, Mohammad has been a marshal at the Fun Drive every year since 1992. “The first time as a marshal, at 18, was interesting. I was the youngest marshal and was leading a group of people.”
For Mohammad, it is not just the desert drive that brings him back every year.
“Earlier, I used to come back because of the drive. Now I come back because of the people, they need guidance and help, and I am here to provide that.
“My experience helps me deal with people who are injured or those who are looking for support.”
These are experiences that draw him back every year.
“Some vehicles break down towards the end of the drive and I see disappointment on the faces of the drivers. They were waiting for a year to take part in the drive and suddenly it is over. This is where I step in and speak to the people and help them,” Mohammad says.
He loves the desert and enjoys driving, but “the desert is different every time.”
“If you drive half an hour today and half an hour tomorrow on the same stretch in the desert, you will have different ways of navigating through it. It is always dynamic. The hill could be big, small, soft or hard. That’s what makes it interesting.”
Any incident that stands out?
“Once, I was driving in the desert and there was nothing in front of me. A second later, I saw a vehicle roll over. This was the first time I saw anything like this and I will never forget the scene.”