Jalal BinThaneya Graduated with a degree in Human Resources and Business studies joined DPworld in 2010. He has worked in the various departments within human resources and is currently working at the ports terminal operations area. But that is only part of his life. His real life is his dedication and purpose and he just cannot wait to be back on the road where he belongs. We learned about his purpose when he was on the road. His feelings were out in the open, his battles and his triumphs. He made it. For a purpose.
Here is his diary
Destination I decided to journey across the GCC on a bicycle for special needs in order to outline their plight in society and to empower plus give a voice to children with special needs and their parents commitment, to give their children the very best socially, mentally and physically. In this case I chose the Al Jalila foundation, a non profit organization which caters to such individuals. Ive been doing this since 2007 when I first walked around the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai Autism Centre, I became the first person to walk around the seven emirates. Every couple of years I would journey into difficult areas or conduct difficult tasks to raise awareness for organizations that cater to special needs this enabled me to understand the areas I went through better than others would initially.
Stayed In I slept on the side of the desert highway. This made it easier for me to wash, pray and be at one with nature while I would cycle through the desert, cities and urban areas . I could reflect on my hardship while being out in the open. In the city, I personally believe urban society to be confused in some aspect, self-obsessed and completely out of focus when it comes to the actual reality of life. People are obsessed with their image, they forget about the image and beauty that is in front of them. They become selfish and shallow, this is one thing I learnt while I suffered on the road, people in rural areas were much more appreciative of my journey as opposed to those in urban environments.
Month I left in the month of December,I usually go on journeys during this time of the year as the weather is not as challenging as it would be during the summer months however conditions are still harsh. During the day the sun is sometimes unbearable and at night the temperatures drop so drastically or it suddenly starts to rain aggressively. I would like you to imagine what it feels like trying to set up camp,after cycling 150-200 kilometers on average as well as having to endure natural elements. It was a lesson in life for me, not the first of course but each time I embarked on a journey, the experience is different, the pain and suffering tastes/feels different as well.
Dined In Most of the food we ate on the highway was inadequate for a person wanting to cycling 150 KM per day,I didn’t always have the luxury associated with getting the proper nourishment I needed to get through the day comfortably. I would say I ate only 2 good meals out of the 27 days I was out on the road,I consider this to be a lot considering the conditions I faced.
Diary When I embarked on this journey, I didn’t want to neglect keeping a diary but from my previous experience, showing a diary to the public and or trying to get it published was going to be a major issue. I had previously kept a diary of my journey to Makkah but a documentary was only released as the write up was deemed unworthy of being published. Since my journey to the empty quarter I have utilized social media to get the message across to the public, a sort of photo journal, that was live and could be read by everyone around the world. This is where Instagram came in handy while I was cycling across the desert highway.
Throughout the journey we would be stopped by security services, sometimes they would help us,as communicated by the UAE foreign ministry, sometimes they would simply refuse to protect me and my spotter or become very hostile and take us to the police station.
I remember when I re entered the kingdom of Saudi Arabia from Qatar, a strange security official would visit us during the early hours of the morning(around 3AM) and ask us random questions,he seemed very suspicious and upset that I was cycling. He knew however, that he couldn’t do anything. There are no restrictions for GCC nationals who can move between member states freely whether it be in a car or bicycle.
Unlike other tours that took place around the GCC,I didn’t have any critical support like medical or security throughout my journey, these would only be provided towards cities and in main capitals that I visited(Kuwait only provided an ambulance)
With each GCC member state I would visit, I would be invited to the Official UAE mission operating in the member state. I would be received officially and we would discuss my journey and commitment to special needs. During my visit to Qatar for example, I would meet the ambassador to Qatar as well as representatives from an organization for the blind and deaf based in Doha, they received me with kindness and were very happy to hear of an Emirati cycling 5000 kilometers in order to raise awareness or special needs.
There were times when I felt under-appreciated or devalued but I won’t discuss this in detail here as it would ruin the whole point of this journey, the point is that I continued on my journey regardless of the difficulties i faced. I remember clearly on the last week of the journey food started to become scarce as I cycled through the mountains and desert highway of Medina region towards Jeddah. On the last day of my journey I cycled 220 Kilometers without any food as there was nothing I could acquire conveniently.
I learned a lot on this difficult road, sometimes in life we have to cross through very harsh environment to understand what a peace of mind really is.
My Purpose I traveled a total of 5000 Kilometers for the Al Jalila Foundation which caters to children with special needs and provides vocational training for their parents. The journey lasted a total of 27 days. You can find more information on www.binthaneya.com