DUBAI //A small team of cyclists yesterday cranked up their preparations for a 350 kilometre ride to raise awareness for Gaza with a practice run through Dubai's desert outskirts.
The nine-strong team will this month take part in Cycling4Gaza, a youth-led initiative that was founded after the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2009 to raise funds for education and healthcare projects.
The initiative started with a small group cycling from London to Paris and became an annual international event that ultimately aims to cycle to Gaza.
In 2010 they followed up with a 350km trip from Pisa south to Rome, in Italy.
This year, 45 cyclists, including the UAE team, will cycle from Olympia to Athens, which is about 350km, from October 20 to October 23.
At 6am yesterday, the riders joined dozens of others on a 65km trip that started near the 511 Outer Bypass Road in the southern outskirts of Dubai and headed towards Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa before looping back.
About 100 people took part, including members of Cycle Safe Dubai, an organisation that aims to provide a safe environment for cycling in the emirate, and those simply supporting the Palestinian cause.
"This event was to raise awareness of our cause among people who take part in Cycle Safe Dubai as well as prepare ourselves for the big challenge ahead of us," said Mohammed Tahboub, 27, the UAE group coordinator for Cycling4Gaza.
Dina Ghandour, 25, a Palestinian member of the UAE team, said: "Having a physical challenge is a different angle to charity work and I think once one is done one feels proud of oneself," she said.