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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The annual Camel Trek, which usually takes place in January, has kicked off early this time.
Eleven adventure seekers, including a couple of five-year-old Emirati boys, set off to navigate the UAE desert riding camels for 14 days beginning on Wednesday.
The desert voyage is the 6th edition of the annual Camel Trek, organised by the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Centre (HHC). The convoy in the last trek has travelled 700km for two weeks and this year, the camel riders are planning of covering at least 65km of the desert per day, depending on weather conditions.
The trekkers are from the UAE, Germany, France, Britain, China and Albania, selected from 700 applicants. They underwent a rigorous training programme at Al Nakhra camel farm in Dubai and also passed all the exams required to participate in the trip.
Abdullah Hamdan bin Dalmook, CEO of the HHC, led the trekkers who set off from the Mender Al Aslab desert area before heading to a pre-arranged route that includes Al Thurawaniah, Al Assab, Al Dhafra Fort, Al Marzoum, Al Shabika, Bugrin, North Razin, Al Haffar, Al Ajban and Saih Al Salam until the convoy lands at the Heritage Village of Dubai Global Village on December 18.
According to the HHC, "the annual camel trek has become very popular among Emiratis and expats, especially among those who love to have a unique desert experience and learn the old ways of the Bedouins. The journey also connects them with nature, in addition to developing ties of friendship and cooperation among the participants."
Emirati Mariam Mohammed said: "I heard about the Camel Trek three years ago and planned of joining the caravan then. But I got the opportunity this year only. I'm very proud of my heritage and I look forward to learn more about desert life and how our ancestors lived in the past."
The annual Camel Trek, which usually takes place in January, has kicked off early this time, coming on the heels of the celebration of the UAE National Day.
Hind bin Demaithan Al Qemzi, HHC director of events, said: "We are proud to launch the trip early. This year's edition of Camel Trek is an extension of the 48th National Day celebration. It is a precious occasion for all of us and is in line with the objectives of the HHC to celebrate our cultural heritage."
Al Quemzi also revealed that this year's edition has attracted the participation of more Emiratis, including five-year-old kids Abdullah Hamdan and Hilal Ibrahim, who were accompanied by their fathers.
"We've introduced this father-son tandem and we hope in the future we will see the participation of more Emirati children with their parents," Al Quemzi said.
Aside from the two boys, the other participants of the Camel Trek are Linda Krockengerger from Germany; Julian Luc Outil (France); Shirley Wilkinson (UK); Xiaozhe Huo (China); Anna Aiko (France) and Rain Nikola (Albania).
Xiaozhe told Al Khaleej Today that she never tried riding a camel before. "This Camel Trek is really life-changing. At first, I was afraid of the camel and I noticed the camel was scared of me too. But then I saw Abdullah easily riding the camel - and he even stood up while riding - and I challenged myself that I should also be able to ride the camel like the young boy," she shared.
Another first-time camel trekker, Linda, said she was just happy to go away for two weeks from her desk-bound job and enjoy the UAE desert environment.
She said: "While training, I sent pictures of myself with the camel to my friends and family back home. At first, they found it odd and they even ridiculed. But I've proved to them that I was really serious and they appreciated my efforts in getting deeply immersed with the Arab culture.
Meanwhile, Al Quemzi said that all the participants have undergone intensive training.
"Each participant has to be familiar with the camel. There will be many challenges that's why it is very important to learn the different tasks during the entire journey, including how to set up tents and feed the camels," Al Qemzi explained
"The HHC has also ensured all the necessary logistics for the entire trek, including the camels, tents, food and other provisions, and a medical team on standby.
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