Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 May 2019

American adventurer plans three-month camel trek to Yemen

Mike Metzger has been spurred on by his successful 170km journey from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain in 2018

Mike Metzger completed a 170km trek from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain in October on his two camels. Satish Kumar for the National
Mike Metzger completed a 170km trek from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain in October on his two camels. Satish Kumar for the National

A modern-day Lawrence of Arabia who crossed the Abu Dhabi desert by camel has even more ambitious plans for 2019 – including a three-month trek to Yemen.

American Mike Metzger, 34, endured swarms of mosquitos and towering sand dunes during his epic journey from Abu Dhabi to Al Ain in October last year.

The 170km-long expedition was dedicated to the memory of the Founding Father, Sheikh Zayed, and his “love for humanity”.

Now though, Mr Metzger plans to repeat its success by embarking on even more adventures, both to and from the capital.

Mike Metzger. Satish Kumar for The National
Mike Metzger. Satish Kumar for The National

One, which he hopes to begin in October, will pay homage to the fallen heroes of the UAE’s military.

“The trip will commemorate and honour all of the UAE’s soldiers,” he said. “We will start in Ras Al Khaimah with the camels and zigzag the entire country, going through every single emirate.

“The finish line will be our arrival at the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi.”

Mr Metzger said he hoped to persuade between 10 and 50 people to join him on his initial trip from Ras Al Khaimah.

He described how each traveller would be asked to study and memorise the life of a well-known UAE soldier, and to share their stories during the journey.

Mike Metzger. Satish Kumar for The National
Mike Metzger. Satish Kumar for The National

He also said he hoped to obtain the support of the UAE Government for the expedition, as well as the backing of the Martyrs’ Families Affairs office.

“It’s kind of a retelling of a person’s life,” he said.

On completing the trip, Mr Metzger said he hoped to finish an even more ambitious excursion to Yemen.

“The last voyage is more of a personal one, but people are still welcome to come,” he said.

“I’m going to be leaving the UAE around January next year, about a year from now.

“I will be travelling from the UAE across Saudi Arabia and into a place called Tarim, which is in far eastern Yemen.”

Mr Metzger first became fascinated by the Middle East in 2006 when he undertook an apprenticeship to learn how to grow dates in the United States.

He intends to give himself three months to complete the gruelling 1,800km trek to Tarim, where he will then stay to complete a year-long Arabic course.

“It’s going to be a massive logistical nightmare,” he said. “I have to get permission from Saudi Arabia to do food and water drops along my route, every 20km or 30km.

“As long as I get the permission to do the food drop-offs along the way, I don’t need to rush.

“I’ll be able to explore and really just enjoy my natural surroundings.”

Updated: January 26, 2019 05:21 PM

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