Dubai: Taking a ‘Journey into Light’ and promoting tourism, peace and friendship, a group of 25 Pakistani bikers are embarking on a 14,000-kilometre, two-month journey from Lahore to Mecca for Umrah, and back to Pakistan on two wheels.
The 25 bikers, who are members of Cross Route Club (CRC), are currently in Dubai, as part of their multi-stop itinerary. They left Lahore on January 6 and will have over 40 stops in six countries, including Pakistan, Iran, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iraq, before they wrap up their 60-day cross-country expedition in mid-March.
Leading the trip with his Italian-made Benelli 500cc roadster is 55-year old Mukaram Tareen, who is also the founder and chairman of CRC. A businessman and landlord back in his hometown in Lahore, Tareen — who has been to 18 countries — describes himself as an advocate and promoter of motorbike adventure tourism.
He told Gulf News the Umrah pilgrimage on motorbike was first conceived in 2019 but did not materialise due to the global pandemic outbreak the following year. As travel restrictions were lifted and borders re-opened, Tareen revived the plan six months ago and preparations ensued.
The road trip is called ‘Journey into Light’ (Safar-e-Noor in Arabic) as all of them are devout Muslims who will be performing Umrah. But they see the trip not only as a religious commitment but also a patriotic voyage to promote their home country Pakistan.
“Along with performing Umrah, we also want to support tourism in Pakistan and the countries we are visiting. This trip is also about advocating peace and camaraderie among people of different countries,” Tareen underlined.
Borrowing a quote from the legendary Arab explorer Ibn Battuta, who said ‘travelling — it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller,’ Tareen said he and his companions will bring with them not only memories but also many stories of the places they see on their travel.
“We will showcase the beauty of the countries we have visited and are going to see — from ragged terrains, to snow-capped mountains, vast golden desert, and towering sky-scrapers like here in the UAE,” Tareen told Gulf News.
“We have also told people we’ve encountered and are going to meet about the beauty of Pakistan,” he added.
The same message of promoting Pakistan was echoed by Pakistan Ambassador to the UAE Faisal Niaz Tirmizi who met the group at a recent welcome event at Pakistan Association Dubai.
In his short talk in Urdu, the Pakistani ambassador praised the bikers for “promoting camaraderie, inclusivity and tolerance.” He also urged Pakistanis abroad and those who are planning on travelling, to invite at least one foreigner to come and see the beauty of Pakistan.
The road trip — which covers around 300 — 400 kms daily — is self-financed, with each biker allocating around 1 million Pakistani rupees (Dh16,000) for the entire journey to cover fuel, food, lodging and other expenses.
“But in every stop, people have invited us for lunch and dinner. They also gave us snacks, water, tea and fruits,” said Abdullah Zahid, 23, the youngest in the group, who added he has forged friendship with many people he met for the first time, including members of Pakistani Riders Group (PRG) who welcomed them in Dubai.
“We exchanged stories, shared riding tips and promised that we will keep in touch,” added Zahid, who runs his own business back in Lahore.
Tareen said they will depart from Abu Dhabi, following a send-off at the Pakistani Embassy, and enter Saudi Arabia via the Al-Batha border on Sunday, January 22.
They are expecting to reach Mecca on January 25 and will stay at the holy city for four days to perform Umrah before they head to Madinah. They will also visit Riyadh, Al-Rawdah, Taif, Duba, Tabuk and other places along the coastal highway and see more tourist sites in Saudi.
From Saudi, they will go to Jordan and visit Amman and Petra then head to Iraq, before they return to Pakistan via Iran, which was their first country stopover.