After 13 days of sailing on the ‘ships of the desert’, camel trekkers arrived to a warm welcome at Expo 2020 Dubai. “Ahlan, Ahlan... Welcome...” the crowd chanted the moment the group entered the gate.
Proudly wearing traditional Bedouin outfits, the adventurers remained in high spirits despite an exhausting 640km journey. One rider exclaimed:“We did it… we did it!”
Organised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Centre, the eighth edition of the camel trek had 29 participants from 17 nations, including Spain, South Korea, Germany, UK, USA, South Africa and France.
Howard Leedham, who has always lived a life of adventure, said the trek was ‘extremely difficult’ but it was worth it.
“This is a one-of-a-kind experience for everyone. It was difficult…. The steep sand dunes and the extreme breeze made it very difficult for us,” said Leedham, a former Royal Navy pilot and UK Special Forces Officer.
The group kicked off their journey at the Liwa Desert of Abu Dhabi, moving towards Al Ain and then Dubai.
German expat Pauline Piesker had a lot of responsibility on this trek, as her 13-year-old daughter Emilia joined her.
“The moment you start the trek, the camel also becomes your responsibility. It was difficult for me to control the camel in the beginning, but I learnt it the good way and we are friends now... I am surely going to miss my partner, that makes me emotional. I also had to take care of my daughter and her camel as well,” Pauline said.
The camel trek was initially an opportunity for Emiratis to retrace their roots, but later on, it had also become popular among expats who wish to experience the true Bedouin life.
“I experienced how the Bedouin people lived. It was quite adventurous,” Emilia said. The teenager said that after everything, she might need rest for at least a week, but she will surely be game for another trek.
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