x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Amazing feat as walker completes UAE tour

700km trek by Emirati shows how grateful he is to the rulers

ABU DHABI // Fadhel al Khouri concluded his two-week, 700 km walk around the emirates yesterday afternoon at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

The Emirati, 32, made the walk from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah and back again to demonstrate his gratitude to the rulers.

While the idea of following the Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway on foot sounds bizarre, Mr al Khouri said he found it very safe. "Even though there was construction going on there was always a place for pedestrians to walk," he said.

"Several cars would stop to ask if I needed a ride I would thank them and just ask them for water. They were very happy when I told them the purpose of my walk."

While he tried to do most of the walking between 10pm and noon and rest during the day at friends' houses in the different emirates, Mr al Khouri said he discovered there were some places with cool weather, even in the summer.

"When I walked from Fujairah to Al Thaid I did not stop during the day, I kept walking under the sun, and, thank God, the weather was better."

When he did not find a friend's house to rest at, he would look for a shaded area or a mosque. "And when it was time for prayer I would find a mosque in front of me."

The senior general services officer said there was a beautiful side to his journey as well.

"I discovered we have so many beautiful places in the country that one should slow down when he is driving his car to notice them."

He was specifically fascinated by the lakes in Umm al Qaiwain and mountains in Fujairah, including an encounter with a young fox.

While he made friends with people he met on the way who would join him for a bit, his most significant new friend was a lost dog.

"After praying Fajer in al Mazhar in Dubai I found a young German Shepherd, it was lost so I spent two hours walking around with it looking for the owner."

Mr al Khouri's initial plan was to stop at each ruler's palace and present a poem to them, but he said when he contacted their offices he was told he should go through the Diwans. "I don't personally know where the Diwans are so I decided to go later by car and deliver the poems at the Diwans."

His mother Alya, waiting to greet him at the mosque, said she was not surprised her son completed the journey. "He always goes for what he wants."

When Mr Khouri did a similar trip last March - only one way as a personal endeavour - he did not tell anyone. "When he came back I asked him why are you so tanned, then he told us what he did," his mother said.