Basem Al Salmi has been riding motorbikes for more than a decade. The system team leader at the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department spends some of his time out of work overseeing the Abu Dhabi Harley Owners Group (HOG). He explains what the group is all about and why he loves taking out Harley-Davidsons, in particular, for late-night rides during Ramadan.
You are the director for HOG in Abu Dhabi, which now has about 80 members. When did you join?
I have been in the group for almost 10 years. When I bought my first bike I didn't join. I was riding by myself and with friends, but not within the group. I joined in 2002. This is the third year I have been president, but I have handled other positions as well.
Have you seen the proportion of expatriates and Emirati members change over the years?
Yes. In the past three years there have been a lot more Emiratis joining the group.
Where do you ride as a group?
We go outside the city to Hatta, Al Ain, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, long rides. Sometimes we stay overnight and go camping. And we ride to all the countries in the Middle East like Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Weekly, we do a short ride outside the city, like to Yas Island. I don't allow them to ride in the city. Imagine 20 bikes in the city. It would close the street.
Do you ride during the day in the summer?
No, just now we do night rides. For example, last week we drove to Dubai and Sharjah and had a couple of coffees and we came home. I got home at 5am. At this time the best rides are first thing in the morning and at night. It's really quiet. In Ramadan we do an iftar ride weekly.
Do you ever drive your Harley to work?
For two years I used to work in a British company and I used to go with my bike. Now I don't because I work in the Government and I have to wear my national dress.
How long have you been riding bikes?
Since I was 18. I rode most kinds of bikes. Until 10 years ago I used to have a sports bike but when I saw the Harley, it was really something else.
Who introduced you to Harleys?
One of my friends had one. I asked him if I could try it and when I did it was really nice, powerful and quiet. So I went for the Harley. I owned a Sportster until 2002, when I bought a new one, and then in 2004 I bought a Fat Boy. Six months ago I also bought this one: an Ultra Classic.
What was it like riding one for the first time?
It's a different feeling from other bikes. Harleys make you feel like you're free.
Of the Harleys you have owned, which is your favourite?
This one. When you ride it you don't want to change it because it's very comfortable and it has music for long rides.
What's the best thing about riding a Harley?
Many things: relaxing, meeting new people and travelling around the world.
* Gillian Duncan