ABU DHABI // A resident of the capital will attempt to walk to each of the UAE's seven emirates over the next two weeks in a display of gratitude to the country's rulers for raising Emirati living standards.
Fadhel Khouri, a 33-year-old Emirati, gathered with friends, relations and colleagues outside the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi on Thursday for the start of a walk he has termed the "Journey of Faithfulness".
He plans to visit the presidential palace of each emirate and present a card containing verses of a poem paying tribute to Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, President of the UAE. It was written by Abdul Aziz Saud al Qeedi, a 52-year-old Emirati in Abu Dhabi, and will contain the names of those who either participated in the walk or lent their support.
Mr Khouri, who works at the Abu Dhabi Distribution Company, is expected to reach Zabeel Palace in Dubai this evening.
He will continue to Sharjah, Ajman, Umm al Qaiwain and Ras al Khaimah, and arrive in Fujairah by June 9. He will then walk from Fujairah to Al Ain and back to Abu Dhabi, hoping to arrive in front of the Emirates Palace hotel by mid-June.
Mr Khouri sent messages to Emirati friends across the country asking them to provide water, laban, dates, a light meal and lodging.
This is his second walk around the Emirates, after covering 740km in six days in March. He did the return leg by bicycle that time.
"I was less prepared in March," Mr Khouri said. "Now I will be travelling light. It will just be a small backpack so I will be able to jog and run and increase my speed from 5km per hour to 20km per hour."
"I will not cause any disturbance," Mr Khouri said. "I will just hand over the card when I reach the palace gates."
Mr Khouri said his family initially objected to the walk and asked him to postpone it to a cooler month. Temperatures are expected to peak at 49° C this month.
"They told me to wait until the winter time," Mr Khouri said. "But I told them that I will be walking through the night, from 4pm to 10am. They advised me to quit when I push myself beyond my limits."
Mr Khouri will embark on a similar walk at the end of the year to coincide with National Day on December 2.