x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai expat to travel 60,000km for cancer charity

Wissam Al Jayyoussi will travel through 22 countries, including the historic Silk Route to aid children's hospital in Palestine.

He will first travel to Oman and Qatar, return to Dubai and then take the ferry to Iran.
He will first travel to Oman and Qatar, return to Dubai and then take the ferry to Iran.

DUBAI // Wissam Al Jayyoussi is saddling up for a far from easy ride.

Mr Al Jayyoussi is pointing his heavily modified BMW motorcycle towards the wide open road - in his case, about 60,000 kilometres of it.

He will ride the historic Silk Route, from Iran to Singapore, to raise money for a children's hospital in the Palestinian Territories.

The Jordanian expatriate, who has Palestinian roots, will travel through 22 countries across Asia in about 130 days to buy medical equipment for the Palestinian Children's Relief Fund Paediatric Cancer Centre in the West Bank.

"I will be going through most of the countries that were part of the old Silk Route," says Mr Al Jayyoussi, 37, who will begin his solo ride from Dubai in April.

He will first travel to Oman and Qatar, return to Dubai and then take the ferry to Iran, marking the official start to his "goodwill journey".

"I will be passing through the capitals of all these countries as raising awareness in capitals is very important," says Mr Al Jayyoussi, who is paying for the tour at an estimated cost of Dh220,000.

"Besides, a Dubai number plate always attracts some attention."

This is the IT entrepreneur's second trip to raise money for the Palestine territories, which he has never visited. About two years ago he rode through 36 countries in Middle East and Europe in 60 days.

"I am very passionate about the cause," Mr Al Jayyoussi says. "I have been raised to help and support our people there."

From Iran, the expedition will take him through countries including Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Russia, Laos and Vietnam.

He will wear a specially designed suit through the entire adventure and carry medicines, camping gear, cooking utensils, maps, brochures, toolkits and spare parts for his BMW R1200GS Adventure motorcycle.

"The bike has been designed for this trip," says Mr Al Jayyoussi, who spent Dh60,000 on the bike and Dh80,000 on modifications. "I took it for a test ride of 1,200 kilometres to see what needed to be done."

He will ride for at least 12 hours each day, although he expects to be on his bike for up to 24 hours some days. He expects to cover as many as 1,000 or as few as 300 kilometres a day, depending on road conditions.

Mongolia and China will be the toughest part of the trip, says Mr Al Jayyoussi.

"Mongolia is the most challenging," he says. "It has very few roads … and there is very little room for mistakes."

He meticulously researched his itinerary to ensure he enters and exits countries without overstaying visas.

Mr Al Jayyoussi anticipates freezing temperatures in Siberia to throw up some difficulties and countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan could pose some security risks. He has contacted bike clubs in many of these countries and their members will ride with him some distance to help him to gather support for his cause.

"When you ride through a capital with 100 bikers it attracts attention and people get curious," Mr Al Jayyoussi says.

He will pay special attention to China on his trip, and has dedicated 33 days to the vast country.

"One reason is that China is massive," he says.

"Also, it is becoming a world power and it is important that the Chinese know about what is happening in Palestine."

Mr Al Jayyoussi will meet representatives of the Palestinian missions in each of the countries he visits, hold press conferences and distribute brochures calling for donations at border points, campsites and petrol stations.

At the end of the trip, he hopes to have created awareness and raised more than Dh1 million for the hospital. "We are looking for corporate and individual sponsors to cover the cost of equipping the hospital," he says.

Even as the countdown to his journey begins, Mr Al Jayyoussi says his first priority is to have his visas and paperwork processed.

Contributions to the hospital can be made online at goodwilljourney.org.

pkannan@thenational.ae