KT Desert Drive: Over 1,400 participants enjoy high-octane off-road adventure

Around 800 four-wheelers headed to the UAE's dunes for the event's third edition



By Syed Ayaz Basha​

Published: Fri 19 Nov 2021, 10:49 PM

Last updated: Sun 21 Nov 2021, 7:36 AM

The Ras Al Khaimah desert sprang to life on Friday with thousands of mean, metal beasts kicking up some serious sand at the Khaleej Times Desert Drive.

As per rough estimates, more than 1,400 adventurers and off-road enthusiasts — amateurs as well as professionals — came together for a fun day in the dunes at the third edition of the hugely popular annual drive.

The army of 4x4s and SUVs — more than 800 — set off at around 8am on a fine Friday morning, and for many of the families, especially children and women, it was a memorable way of seeing the raw beauty of the desert with the sun still low, and a cool breeze making for a pleasant start.

The specially devised route saw the drivers try to make their way through varying levels of challenging terrain, with safety marshalls and expert off-roaders accompanying the convoys.

The thousands of enthusiastic participants were more than up to the challenge for unbridled adventure, exploration and fun as the route provided countless vantage points for Insta-worthy snaps and dramatic Facebook story videos.

Ibrahim Galadari of Galadari Brothers flagged of the event, and his excitement was infectious. “There is a huge turnout today. We hope to give you better, more adventure-packed KT desert drives in future,” he said, as the engines revved up behind him.

“I am delighted to see thousands of participants line up for this drive, and this only goes to prove the increasing popularity of this annual event.”

Mohamed Yahya Kazi Meeran, Group CEO and Director, Galadari Brothers, said holding such events is important as they will forge camaraderie and tolerance among residents.

“The Galadari Brothers Group will make every effort to bring its employees, customers and other residents closer in events that would help relieve their stress in the post-pandemic period but under strict health protocol,” he added.

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In desert driving, safety is key, and the organisers went the extra mile to ensure everyone had a safe and fun drive. Experts and experienced off-roaders had meticulously planned the route to make sure that participants would have a challenging drive, but at the same time, a safe and fun outing. Many experts were riding along with fully-equipped vehicles to tend to any emergencies or to help out vehicles stuck in the sand, or those facing difficulty negotiating the terrain.

Before heading out into the big wide sea of sand, a delicious breakfast spread was laid out for the participants to fuel themselves, and lunch was also served mid-way on the route.

At the end of the long, gruelling drive, as the sun was slowly dipping down, the KT Desert Drive camp beckoned the tired — and hungry — participants home to Bassata Village in Ras Al Khaimah.

As the drivers and families finally got to stretch their tired limbs and freshened up, a lavish dinner was laid out for them. As they made it to the camp to feast on some delectable fare, while watching exotic belly dancing, it all looked like a scene straight out of Arabian Nights! And to help the participants cool down after watching all that dancing , there was unlimited Baskin-Robbins icecream for a sweet ending.

There was live entertainment, quizzes and music to keep the families entertained as the moon came up over the horizon.

The participants were super happy at the end of it all. Habshan Abdul Kalam, who is a regular at the KT Desert Drive, said he waits all year for the drive. “It was definitely worth the wait,” he told Khaleej Times. “The turnout was fantastic and I met a lot of my off-road friends.”

“It was a family and friends get together for me, with some high-octane driving.” Kalam said.

The experienced off-roading enthusiast also had another reason to be proud. He helped about eight other drivers who got their SUVs stuck in the sand. One of the participants who was helped by Kalam said that they met a number helpful souls throughout the event.

Sheetal and his wife Smita were one such couple who were thankful for the support from participants and marshals. “It has been a wonderful day for us. We learned a few life lessons – always help people in trouble. We did not experience such an adventure before. This will be a part of our lives forever,” Smita said.

German expat Martin who took part with his two young children, said: ”This is our first drive with KT and it was amazing. We got lost a few times and though it was quite worrisome, with my two young kids, there were always people around to help. The four-hour drive was a bit long for my boys, but still they were just overwhelmed and thrilled with the bumpy ride.”

Indian expat Khwaja Saifuddin, who is known in the off-roading community was all praise for the spectacular event. Saifuddin, who has been hitting the UAE’s deserts for over 18 years now, said this was the best off-roading event he has ever taken part in. “It was worth the wait post-Covid-19 and it was great to the see the huge number of participants. The off-roading community got to experience one of the best adventures in the UAE,”

Saifuddin, was accompanied by his son Zainaddin, who is learning to be an off-road driver. “I take my son along to off-roading, and he is excited to see the experts driving adventurously,”

The participants were all praise for elaborate and meticulous planning by Rajeev Khanna, Chief Operating Officer, Khaleej Times; and Poonam Chawla, Head of KT Engage and Events & Conferences, to make the event a runaway success.

The KT Desert Drive was sponsored by Mitsubishi Motors – Montero Sport (lead sponsor), powered by Yokohama Geolander Tyres, Castrol (exclusive lubricant partner) and Al Ain Water (water partner); CAFU (mobile fuelling partner ), Nature Valley (nutrition partner) Danube Properties (support sponsor), Hala (Car Insurance Partner), Batt Mobile (on site car services partner), and Ajooba (signage partner) and supported by Dubai Off Roaders.


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