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Maloy Chakraborty with his wife Meenakshi. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Combating the pandemic has not been easy for many families. But the Chakraborty family in Dubai found a way out.

Meet Maloy Chakraborty, 50, working as the country head with a company in the FMCG industry in Dubai. Along with his wife Meenakshi, 47, an electronics and telecommunications engineer, and their daughter Malaika, 15, who is studying in Grade 10, he has been hiking together as a family every weekend.

“Earlier we used to attend a lot of parties. Our weekends would be spent with friends partying. Then COVID stopped all this. We could not attend it used to be weekend parties. COVID stopped all this.”

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A view of the wadi. Image Credit: Supplied

It was during winter that the family decided to get out into the UAE’s wadis. “It was really about combating the pandemic year. The choice was to either stay at home or exploring hiking trails where there is not much crowd. So from easy walks to demanding ascents and descents — it has been an adventure ride us.”

The trio have hiked across mountains, wadis, deserts and dams this winter. They say there are plenty of places to escape the city’s maddening crowd. “You also get to learn more about the culture and heritage around us on foot,” said Meenakshi. “Not only is hiking a wonderful way to see more of the landscape, it is a fun way to be active in a place where we are all more inclined to using four wheels rather than our two feet.”

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The Chakraborty family on a mountain trail. Image Credit: Supplied

‘Hatta trail’

The family started their hiking journey every popular ‘Hatta trail’. “We did the full loop of the Green Route of 5.5km,” said Malaika. Then it was the turn of the 'Al Rabi mountain trail' in Khor Fakkan. “A full loop is 2,650 metres, with an elevation of 1,290ft (395 metres). We were thrilled to reach the highest peak of the eastern mountain of Khor Fakkan,” said Maloy.

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The lush green wadi. Image Credit: Supplied

The family have also done the ‘Wadi Shees Nature Trail” in Khor Fakkan. “This was relatively an easy walk through an area which was once a busy settlement. It is now home to local farmers. The sight was breathtaking and we learnt so much about the local heritage. What we also found most interesting was that Wadi Shees is a rarity in that it has fresh water flowing all year round. Thanks to the Falaj system that collects rainwater in underground wells and distributes it through an irrigation network built 3,000 years ago,” said Meenakshi.

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Maloy and Meenakshi. Image Credit: Suppplied

Meandering trails through the mountains

The ‘Al Shawka mountain trail’ in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah is a 10km loop hike involving an intense cardio climb over 576 steps over a steep gradient followed by meandering trails through the mountains. There are several hiking areas around the Wadi Shawka and the Shawka Dam.

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Malaika added that the hiking ventures have brought the family ever more close together. “The UAE’s beautiful weather during the winter months, and the scenic trails added a soulful purpose to our hikes. We also made new friends along the way. Before summer sets in full swing, we want to do more such hiking trails and explore the beauty of the UAE where we have been living for more than 21 years. COVID surely has changed our ways of looking at life and lifestyle for the better,” said Malaika.