Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 August 2019

American adventurer embarks on 10-day trek of Abu Dhabi desert

Carrying scorpion sting medicine and electrolytes to counter dehydration, Mike Metzger will travel 170km between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain

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

An American adventurer has set off on a 10-day trek across the Abu Dhabi desert in memory of Sheikh Zayed’s “life achievements and love for humanity”.

Mike Metzger, 34, plans to cover the 170km distance with the help of two camels he bought after arriving in the UAE three years ago.

The ambitious trip will involve crossing vast stretches of sand dunes in temperatures of about 40C this week.

Sheikh Zayed, the Founding Father of the country, undertook a similar journey as a young boy with his family back in 1926.

“I bought the camels because I love the heritage of this country, the traditional skills and the traditional life that used to be much more prevalent here,” Mr Metzger said.

“I will be sleeping in the desert, walking camels and riding camels, taking breaks, eating very simple food, dates, bread, milk, fruits and potatoes. It’s my small tribute to Sheikh Zayed.”

Originally from Massachusetts, Mr Metzger took the decision to move to the UAE to study Emirati culture.

He now runs agricultural workshops and teaches desert survival techniques for organisations including Department of Tourism and Culture – Abu Dhabi. He plans to travel around 20km a day before arriving in Al Ain.

He said his route will not entirely match Sheikh Zayed’s owing to roads and other modern developments that have been built.

Mike Metzger. Satish Kumar for The National
Mike Metzger set off on Friday. Satish Kumar for The National

“The route I’m taking is pretty much the only route that bypasses most of the major highways and keeps me in the desert the whole way without having to run into any oil and gas fields or more restricted areas,” he said.

“So it’s basically just the most open, safest route that I have been able to plot. I’ll carry about four days of food and water on the camel.

“Sheihk Zayed’s 1926 trip was a summer voyage and I wanted to embark on this journey as close to summer as possible.

“It was also a very small caravan, just Zayed, his mother and a few others. It highlights Zayed's bravery as such a young age.”

Mr Metzger has previously trekked from the UAE to Yemen and sailed from south India to Oman.


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Mr Metzger left Abu Dhabi on Friday in traditional kandoura and intends to reach Al Ain by October 15.

He intends to ride one of his camels and use the other for cargo. Several friends will meet him at prearranged points to drop off supplies and a satellite navigation kit will keep him on course.

“Basically I will have two stops where I meet my back up team to get food and water,” he said.

“I have a tent but when it gets windy it gets quite difficult to maintain.

“Camping out in the desert is fine. I’ve seen snakes and beetles but I haven’t seen scorpions. I’m taking medication, sting repellent and electrolytes for dehydration.

“As an expat, I feel we take so much of this country for granted. We have such vast opportunities to live here in peace, in safety and prosperity.

“If you boil it all down, it was because of Sheikh Zayed’s vision, because of his complete selfless life giving back, not only to his people but to everyone.

“He poured his heart, blood and resources to every single human being who stepped foot in the UAE.”

Mr Metzger said he plans to hold a brief ceremony featuring poetry and stories on his arrival in Al Ain.

Anyone interested in joining should get in touch with him at Michael.of.emirates@gmail.com.

Updated: October 6, 2018 11:35 AM