WITH A PASSION for travel and adventure, Sheikh Mohammad Al Thani - aka Sheikh Moe - is all geared up for his next venture, Gumball 3000 following his recent climb up Mount Kilimanjaro. For the second year in a row, Al Thani will be participating in the 2010 edition of the global luxury race starting on May 1 along with his two friends, Masoud and Raed.
Gumball 3000 is an annual 3000-mile international road rally which takes place on public roads, with a different route around the world each year. Founded in 1999, it sees an annual entry of 120 mostly exotic cars, however more unusual entries such as police cars and camper vans have been seen participating. The rally is not a serious race in the traditional sense - there are no prizes for finishing first or official timekeeping of any sort.
The eight-day rally will start in London and end in New York City. Al Thani will also be taking on Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Boston, Quebec City and Toronto before crossing the finish line in his 2008 Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead.
In the 2009 edition of Gumball, he and his partners were presented with an ‘Ambassadors Award’, and this year the trio will spread the message of ‘One Spirit, No Limit’. In a ‘Middle East meets the West’ scenario, Al Thani will complete the rally in traditional Emirati attire and educate people along the way about his homeland. We speak to the globe trekker before he embarks on his awesome adventure.
Why did you decide to compete in the Gumball 3000 this year?
Following the success of our last Gumball race where we won the ‘Ambassador Award’, we decided to do it again by being even more creative and energetic. The thing that sets Gumball apart from other rallies is the people who take part in it. They are an amazing group of very influential people, which allows me to network as well.
Your banner this year will be ‘One Spirit, No Limit’. Tell us about the message you are hoping to spread.
We want to tell people to live up to their dreams and start crossing out items on their bucket list. There are two types of people: ones who take action and do something with their life, and others who sit on the sidewalk talking about the ones who succeed. I’d like to be the one on the highway. Can you explain the logistics behind Gumball 3000? What does it take to drive from London to New York?
The Gumball 3000 crew is doing a great job to make sure everything is set, but with over 250 like-minded people, things tend to get chaotic. From shipping the car to insurance to vehicle customising, the hardest issue is actually carrying around luggage (we are heavy packers). I’m sure we will find a creative way through it all though, but to drive from LA to NY needs patience, especially when you are stuck 12 hours a day with the same people for a week. You can imagine how many laughs, fights, tears and the occasional punch happen along the way.
What is behind your decision to wear traditional Emirati attire during the race?
All three of us will be dressed in traditional attire because we hope to educate the West about our Middle Eastern spirit and traditions of hospitality. Once we educate someone, we refer to them as being “Sheikh’d”. Last year we “Sheikh’d” over 5,000 people in the US alone and this year we are looking to “Sheikh” people from London to New York. Once a person is “Sheikh’d”, they get a wrist band and then we upload their picture on our Facebook fan page.
What kind of car will you be using in the race?
We will be in a Rolls-Royce Drophead fully wrapped in theme with our mission.
What is the best part about participating? The worst?
I must say the best things are all the good friends I make along the way; it’s truly priceless. The worst was getting stuck with Dennis Rodman in our car for 12 hours last year. He is a handful; we barely made it with all his crazy ideas.
What is your next adventure?
Well I like to cross one item off my list at a time, so I’ll know what’s next in a few weeks.
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