The Gulf News Fun Drive returned full-throttle much to the exictement of both regular and new participants Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The two-day 40th edition of Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive - ‘Tilal Swaihan Experience’, with Nissan as the automotive sponsors, has come to an end, capping a fun-filled weekend on Sunday.

Around 2,000 participants and over 700 vehicles took part in the two-day desert adventure. After a full day navigating the undulating sand dunes of Tilal Swaihan and a night of bonding over sumptuous dinner and live entertainment, participants woke up to a bright and cool Sunday morning.

Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri (L), CEO of ADNEC, and Abdul Hamid Ahmed (R), CEO, Editor-in-Chief and Executive Director Publications, Gulf News during the cake cutting ceremony at the camp on Saturday night Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkla/Gulf News

A hearty breakfast awaited them, as they shared their experiences, photos, videos and stories with family, friends, colleagues and new-found acquaintances. Printed copies of Gulf News were also on hand – while others browsed the website – detailing all highlights of Day 1 adventures.

Participants enjoying the breakfast spread at the camp on Sunday morning Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkla/Gulf News

Unanimous verdict

Participants unanimously agreed the event was a fun-filled adventure, one they truly enjoyed with family and friends. For the Fun Drive old-timers and seasoned off-road drivers, it was an answer to their two-year wait (the gap happened because of the pandemic); and for the first-timers, the adventure was a great first-hand experience to the desert life.

Performers kept audiences entertained Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkla/Gulf News

Dubai resident Suraiya Nawab, from India, and her relative Rukhsana Abidi, who visited the UAE from the US, said it was a fantastic and memorable experience for them as first-time participants in the Gulf News Fun Drive. They added: “We loved the dune bashing as well as the amenities and overall camp management.”

There were plenty of entertainment and dinning options Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkla/Gulf News

Maryam Khan and her daughter, Ranya, also shared – while enjoying a hearty breakfast – their own experiences. They said the Fun Drive was really a welcome event after the pandemic. Their vehicle got stuck in the sand a couple of times but marshals were quick to put them back to action and covered the whole desert drive. Bejoy Mathew, a regular Fun Drive participant, was also happy it happened again this year. “I waited for it for two years, and I had blast and fantastic time in the desert. I enjoyed every moment of it,” he added.

The annual event also offers participants an opportunity socialise and make new friends Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkla/Gulf News
A magician interacts with participants at the camp Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkla/Gulf News

Enduring support

The event was a huge success because of the cooperation and coordination by everyone. Participants observed health and safety precautions while the marshals, volunteers, GN staff, medics, ambulance, police, and staff at the camp were always on hand to extend assistance.

Everything was also made possible because of the generous and enduring support of sponsors. Abdul Hamid Ahmed, Gulf News CEO and Editor-in-Chief, said: “I would like to thank Nissan, Al Masaood Automobiles LLC and Arabian Automobiles Company for supporting the Gulf News Fun Drive.”

Nissan's stand at Gulf News Fun Drive 2022
Al Masaood Automobiles showcased Nissan’s latest 4X4 vehicles at their stand at the camp Image Credit: Supplied

At the event, Al Masaood Automobiles showcased Nissan’s latest 4X4 vehicles, including Nissan Patrol, Patrol Safari and X-Terra—all of which have been crafted to support demanding desert activity and performance.

Nissan stand at Gulf News Fun Drive 2022
The Patrol, seen here at the stand at the camp, is dubbed the ‘Hero of All Terrain’ Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkla/Gulf News

According to them, the three models are deeply entrenched in the region’s culture and lifestyle. The Patrol, Super Safari and X-Terra occupy a special place in the hearts and minds of car owners and enthusiasts in the UAE and the region. They are valued for their comfort, safety, sophistication, and performance, especially when navigating difficult terrains and harsh road conditions. The Patrol, dubbed the ‘Hero of All Terrain’, has specifically been passed down as an heirloom from generation to generation, they said, reflecting people’s close affinity to the model.

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Nissan’s display stand had a pristine white look and gave a showroom feeling, with the cars sophisticatedly lit up. There was also a relaxation zone with Foosball and bean bags to sink into after a hectic day. Al Masaood Automobiles said: “The Gulf News Fun Drive is an ideal platform to highlight not only our community’s ties with the models but also the vehicles’ modern interior, exterior and performance features for the guests to examine up close and appreciate.”