Fifa World Cup: Driving solo from India, mum-of-five arrives in Dubai en route to Qatar

Naaji Noushi's first stop in town was the Burj Khalifa, as taking a selfie in front of world's tallest building was on her bucket list



by

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Fri 25 Nov 2022, 5:11 PM

Last updated: Sat 26 Nov 2022, 1:47 AM

An Indian mother-of-five who is on an epic solo trip from India to Qatar to watch the Fifa World Cup has arrived in the UAE. Naaji Noushi, who set out from the southern Indian state of Kerala, on October 15, arrived in the UAE from Oman via the Hatta border on Wednesday evening.

One of her first stops was in front of the world’s tallest tower to click a photo. “It was one of the things on my bucket list when I set out on this journey – to take a photo in front of the Burj Khalifa,” she said.

“I am glad to have achieved it.”

However, Naaji’s trip has been far from easy. “Shipping my vehicle from Mumbai to Oman was the biggest challenge I faced in my journey so far ,” she said, when Khaleej Times caught up with her in Dubai over a plate of biryani and lemon juice.

“I was told by several shipping companies that I would not be able to transport the vehicle. I went to the Oman Consulate in India and met the Consul General. He was very impressed with my trip and helped me get the papers sorted. My car is one of the first Indian-registered right-hand vehicles to be shipped into Oman.”

After arriving in Oman by plane, Naaji dressed up in a Spiderman suit and rushed home to surprise her children. Armed with a cake, she went to see her little ones ranging in ages from 2 to 14, whom she hadn’t seen in over two months.

Support from people

Naaji credits the people around her for their immense support to help realise this trip of hers. “Obviously, if not for the support of my mum and my husband Naushad, none of this would be possible,” she said.

Apart from her family, Naaji has found support from unexpected quarters at every step. While chatting with KT in front of the Museum of Future, a Pakistani man stopped by to say hello and take a photo with her.

“I read about her trip on the news and saw her videos on social media,” he said.

“I really admire her for what she is doing. I am also going to Qatar to see the games but I am going by plane. It seems very boring compared to the adventure Naji is having.

“From the time I started looking for sponsorships till now, some people have been extremely kind,” she said.

“The agents at Mahindra Thar went the extra mile to make sure my car was in perfect condition for the journey. However, I got the vehicle only a day before my departure. The 'sticker' guys worked on my car with barely any sleep to make sure that it was ready on time.”

However, Naaji admitted that she had faced trouble getting sponsorship and money for her trip because of her gender. “Some people even told me that they had sponsored male vloggers but were hesitant to spend on me because I am a woman,” she said.

Inside the vehicle

The 33-year-old has been driving her customised Mahindra Thar SUV that has a built-in kitchen and a tent attached to its roof on this epic journey. Naaji has nicknamed the vehicle “Oolu”, which is a Malayalam slang word meaning “She”. The wanderlust has taken off the back seats of the SUV and converted the space into a kitchen and sleeping space for this epic journey during which she has driven thousands of kilometers.

On the kitchen counter, there is a stove and gas cylinder, while underneath, in cupboards she has stocked rice, water, flour, spices and other dry goods that she can cook on the go. “I tried to cook as much as I could,” she said. “It obviously saves money and also minimises risk of food poisoning.”

From the UAE, Naaji will head to other GCC countries before arriving in Qatar to watch her favourite team play. “I am a diehard fan of Argentina,” she said.

“I just want to see my hero Messi play. The loss to Saudi Arabia was heartbreaking for me but I am sure it is only a small hiccup on their way to lifting the cup.”

ALSO READ:


More news from FIFA World Cup