Dubai Fitness Challenge: Residents reveal ultimate body transformation

The 30x30 challenge motivated these three residents to adopt healthier lifestyles and set new goals


Saman Haziq

Published: Fri 29 Oct 2021, 8:12 PM

Last updated: Fri 29 Oct 2021, 8:16 PM

As the Dubai Fitness Challenge (DFC) returns to the city with renewed energy for the fifth edition, we bring you some inspiring stories of residents who call it ‘the turning point’ of their life.

Husam Mohamed, 34, is one such example, who said the 30x30 challenge gave him a new lease of life and brought about a huge positive shift.

“I was 30 when this challenge was announced. Due to my unhealthy lifestyle, I had become obese, diabetic with high blood pressure. I would often fall sick and had to see doctors every second day. I weighed a whopping 130kg then and at that rate, I felt I would not survive beyond 50 years.

“It was during this time that the community movement began and I saw how the city came to life with a number of fun and free activities to stay fit. Seeing our prince (Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai) lead by example, I decided to try it out. That was the best decision of my life,” he said.

Husam’s transformation is nothing short of incredible. Today, he sports a fit and fab physique, having lost an amazing 50kg since the first edition of DFC.

Not only that, he now motivates others to stay fit through videos he puts up on social media.

“I inspire them to adapt a healthy lifestyle by eating the right foods and staying active. Even 30 minutes a day of any physical activity will bring about a change in your life; this I have experienced firsthand. My journey is beautiful and every day, I get up with more energy and feel happy and positive. This fitness journey has brought out the best in me,” Husam said.

This year, Husam has set a new goal for himself. “I plan to complete a full marathon this year - something I could only dream of a few years back, when I would hardly walk a few steps before running out of breath.

"The DFC shows us that you don’t need to have membership in a fancy gym, as this city has a number of fitness activities lined up for the entire month as well as a number of great beaches, open areas that have good running tracks and many fitness community groups out there to help you,” he said.

Husam began the first day of this year’s challenge by participating in a half marathon in Kalba. He plans to dedicate the full month to prepare for the full marathon on November 26.

Math professor to fitness buff

Math professor Dr Haitham Solh said he got a health wake-up call after suffering a heart attack a few years ago.

He began exercising and the DFC gave wings to his motivation.

“I have been motivated by the Dubai Fitness Challenge since 2017, when I weighed 123kg. I wanted to lose weight but also to set a better example for my kids. Having to complete 30 minutes of activity every day pushed me to look after my fitness and because it was too difficult I also had to lose weight. The more weight I lost, the more it became easier to complete a 30-minute workout,” he said crediting the DFC for ‘gifting’ him with the love of fitness.

“Four years later, I am proud to say I have lost more than 25kg, and I average 60 minutes of workout per day. The DFC was the main trigger for my transformation journey.”

Raising the bar a notch higher this year, Solh said: “This year, I am committed to doing 90 minutes per day and 20,000 steps. I will also be leading weekly community runs from the fitness village on Kite Beach as an ASICS FrontRunner - a community initiative. I will culminate the fitness challenge by running a full marathon on the last day of the challenge.”

Solh is also leading his university’s team in the 30x30 challenge, and said they will have campus runs every Wednesday to motivate students to stay fit.

The man who ran 45km for 20 days last year

During last year’s DFC, UAE expat Ghani Souleymane would wake up each day at 2am to run 45km before going to work.

But this year he will be going even farther.

“While last year, I undertook the challenge to run 45km every day for the last 20 days of the challenge and raise money for children of determination, this year I am doing the half Ironman Triathlon for 30 days to raise funds for the same charity. I will be running 21km, swimming 2km and cycling 90km for each day of the 30x30 challenge," he said.

Hailing from Togo, West Africa, Ghani said he started running four years ago when he moved to Dubai. The 38-year-old began his journey by running with the DFC and dedicated his runs to a meaningful cause of charity.

“Thank you, Sheikh Hamdan, for keeping the whole country fit. You need a real vision to introduce such a fantastic initiative, as it keeps the communities fit, motivated, and most importantly, helps them keep the doctor away,” he said.


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Ghani said running has also allowed him to give back to the country he calls home. He volunteers his time with Heroes of Hope, a nonprofit group devoted to getting children of determination active.

“I have a link in my Instagram page through which people can donate to this cause. Thanks to DFC I can now do more for the community,” he said.

Ghani said the DFC is a great opportunity to stay fit and give back to the community. “Another amazing part about this challenge is that people participate not for the competition or to win or compare, but to realise their own potential... to enjoy with the community. That is why this is a one-of-a-kind initiative that benefits all.”

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