Ajman - 54-year-old Emirati walks 350km to prove love for UAE

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Eissa Rashed Khalfan Alreyami, with the UAE flag on his backpack, touched all emirates other than Abu Dhabi.

Since he is a sports enthusiast, he felt the best way was to cross all emirates holding the UAE flag high.

A 54-year-old Emirati celebrated the UAE National Day by completing a 350km marathon across the UAE holding the country's national flag. Businessman Eissa Rashed Khalfan Alreyami said he was looking to do something special for his country on it's national day.

Since he is a sports enthusiast, he felt the best way was to cross all emirates holding the UAE flag high.

Ajman resident Alreyami decided to visit UAE national flag poles across the seven emirates on foot. This, he calculated, would come to around 350km on foot.

"I began my walk/run on November 21 from Fujairah flag pole where I had the support of the police officials. Also, some members of the royal family joined to flag off my solo marathon."

With a flag planted firmly in his backpack, Alreyami took around four hours to reach the flag pole in the next emirate - Ras Al Khaimah. The Ajman businessman said he took 11 days to cover six emirates. Although he was set to finish the marathon in Abu Dhabi on December 2, he was unable to get prior permission from the Abu Dhabi Police and, therefore, had to return from the border.

Alreyami called the marathon a life-changing experience, stating he got immense love and support from people of all nationalities across the emirates. He was accompanied by his brother who drove alongside him in his car, giving him water and required refreshments and first aid when needed.

"It was not only my family and friends who supported this marathon. Wherever I went, people came out in large numbers to wave and cheer for me. They didn't know me and I didn't know them, but every resident who saw me running with the flag and the union logo shirt wished luck and encouraged me. I felt the true spirit of the UAE on this journey. I saw people of so many cultures come together."

Alreyami walked and ran for four to five hours every day to reach his target destination.

"I just walked for a couple of hours every day for the last year or so. I had this target of National Day in my mind and that helped me mentally and physically prepare for this Herculean task," he said.

Alreyami said there were two main reasons to undertake the 350km run. "Firstly, out of sheer love for my country and its wise leaders who have kept us all united. Another reason for this marathon is fitness. I wanted to promote the idea of staying fit and set an example for people both young and old. If a middle-aged busy trader like me can take out time and do this 350km marathon, no one really has an excuse. Health is our real wealth, the more you use your body the younger and healthier you will feel."

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