Dubai Ride: Meet the man who paid tribute to India's first rocket launch, cycles to a theme every year

Last year, Ajmal accompanied his friend who made juice while cycling on Sheikh Zayed Road


Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sun 6 Nov 2022, 6:43 PM

Last updated: Sun 6 Nov 2022, 8:05 PM

Indian expat Ajmal Poyakkara Mahamood caught the attention of residents at the Dubai Ride this year for recreating an iconic picture from India's first rocket launch.

The Dubai resident dressed up in a white shirt and grey pants carried a cone-like object on the back of his cycle in memory of the 1963 photograph which showed India's first space rocket being transported for its launch from Thumba in Kerala.

"I am a Keralite and I wanted to pay homage to my land and its people," said Ajmal. "It was in November 1963 that the rocket was launched from Thumba. I also wanted to highlight how bicycles have always been an integral part of people's lives, be it for daily activities or history-altering events like the rocket launch."

The 31-year-old avid athlete who works as a producer in Dubai invested in a classic cycle for the event and proudly rode over the 12km route for Dubai Ride.

Themed rides since 2020

Ajmal has been a part of the ride since its inaugural session in 2020 and has cycled to a theme every year.

Last year, he rode along with his friend Raja, a tourist in Dubai, and both of them mounted their cycles with blender to make a smoothie during the ride. It was dedicated to Raja's business venture that was striving for zero waste.

In 2020, he dedicated the ride to grocery delivery boys whom he called unsung heroes of the pandemic. He mounted a basket filled with grocery items to hail their efforts to maintain some semblance of normalcy in a world that was struggling with the new normal.


Thumba rocket launch

In November 1963, the sleepy fishing village of Thumba was zeroed in as the perfect spot for a rocket launch for its location close to the magnetic equator. A small church was located at the spot, which the church's bishop donated to the space research program with the permission of his congregation.

The bishop's home became an office, the church a workshop, and cattle sheds served as storage houses and laboratories. "It was truly a testimony of how a country came together to support a program that had little funding but a bright future," said Ajmal. "And I think more people needed to hear this story. That is what I attempted to achieve with my ride."

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