UAE: This resident has travelled to 44 countries in his Dubai-registered car

Munir Karim says his journeys have been a rich source of cultural insights, teaching him humility, appreciation for humanity

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SM Ayaz Zakir

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Muhammad Sajjad

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KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad
KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad

Published: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 11 Jan 2024, 2:38 PM

For 68-year-old Munir Karim, the joy of solo travel represents freedom, self-discovery, and a deep connection with diverse cultures worldwide. “Some journeys must be travelled alone, and by saying this, I drove to 44 countries all by myself,” said Karim, a long-time Dubai resident, currently running his own business, and a former employee of Dubai Defence.

The star of his adventures is his vehicle. “My reliable Suzuki Jimny. It has clocked an impressive 195,000 kilometres, with 60,000 of those outside the UAE,” said Karim.

World opened for him

Karim began travelling in 1988, taking to the skies for destinations like Thailand, followed by trips to Holland and Canada in 1989. He explored five countries that year: Canada, the USA, France, Italy, and the UK. “After travelling to all these countries, the world opened for me,” he said.

KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad
KT Photo: Muhammad Sajjad

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Over the years, he has travelled to many countries, flying across Far Asia and Europe, tallying up an impressive 86 countries visited and over 300 flights taken. “I collected souvenirs from each city I visited over the past 35 years,” said Karim.

In 2012, Karim's family migrated to Canada, introducing him to a different mode of exploration. “I witnessed the road travel culture in Canada. At the age of 56, I embarked on my first road trip from Vancouver to Alaska accompanied by my wife. Since then I have become an avid road traveller,” said Karim.

Munir Karim (right). Photos: Supplied
Munir Karim (right). Photos: Supplied

Solo travel journey

When Karim returned from Canada to manage his business, his love for solo travel blossomed during his stay in Dubai, prompting him to dream of a road trip to London covering the entire expanse of Europe. “In 2016, I turned this dream into reality. I explored many countries in Europe and Asia. It took me over 64 days to travel,” said Karim.

Karim's drive through Europe clocked 30,000 kilometres, unfolding through 32 countries. “From the bustling cities to serene landscapes, my car navigated diverse terrain, making it a memorable exploration of cultures across the continent,” said Karim.

The loyal companion

Karim's compact companion is no ordinary car; it boasts a bed, kitchen, toilet, and all the amenities necessary for a comfortable trip. “The car’s small size allows me to rest anywhere. I have spent over 31 nights in the car during my travel,” said Karim.

Karim's choice of the Suzuki Jimny was deliberate. “Its compact build, fuel efficiency, and four-wheel-drive capabilities make it an ideal companion for my adventures. Even with its small size, I can easily convert the car into a sleeping space by folding the seats,” said Karim.

Travelling the expanse of Russia

While he was very happy and content with his car, Karim desired a caravan and decided to go on a longer trip covering the expanse of Russia, Mongolia, China, South Korea, and other countries. In 2017, he purchased a pickup, transforming it into a fully-equipped caravan.

His goal was to take it to Moscow and other parts of Russia. However, visa constraints only allowed for a transit visa, and he couldn’t take his caravan. “The car was the best option and I had to exit Russia in a few days,” said Karim who drove for nine days to reach Moscow from Dubai.

The journey to Moscow was about 12,000 kilometres. Karim has covered about 6,000 kilometres during his Umrah pilgrimage. Remarkably, all these solo journeys were accomplished within 10 years.

Preparation

Karim meticulously plans his trips, starting three months in advance. Passport and visa acquisition, route study, and customs clearance are all part of the pre-journey preparations. “Crossing borders by road can be time-consuming, but I navigate them with ease by taking prior approvals from the relevant authorities. Some passages are smooth while some are challenging,” said Karim.

For Karim, the world is the best university. “My travel to many countries have been a rich source of cultural insights, teaching me humility, appreciation for humanity, and respect for all living beings,” said Karim.

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