Known as the ‘ships of the desert’, camels have been transporting people across the world’s rugged terrain for many millennia. One of the oldest means of transport known to man, camels have crossed borders, saved lives and produced stories that have transcended generations.
Ahmed Al Qassemi’s may well be one such tale that stands the test of time. A celebrated Yemeni traveller, Al Qassemi’s wanderlust has driven him to try to trek across the globe on camelback. He has racked up a total of 40,000km so far, travelling across the whole of Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia – including Malaysia and Indonesia.
His decision to travel on camelback was driven by a desire to relive the challenges faced by his ancestors and get closer to his roots; now, Al Qassemi wants to impart the wisdom he has acquired through his travels to other people.
This has led him to partner with Dubai’s Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Centre in order to begin an initiative to encourage people of all nationalities and walks of life to train and trek across desert like Bedouins.
“I had the passion to see new places in my heart, so I took my camel and started crossing from one desert into another and before I knew it I had covered a distance of 40,000km on my camel,” Al Qassemi tells Sport360 through an interpreter.
He does not speak English but it has never hampered him, the trekker using natural instinct to help him avoid danger and befriend locals of the areas he has travelled to by communicating with them using signs.
“I am using my mind, although I don’t speak English I can understand what he is saying with signs. I can see if their danger on their faces and if there is a need to protect myself from the locals in any way.”
When trekking, Al Qassemi crosses the seas on ships with his camel and then continues his journey the old-fashioned way once he reaches land.
He equips himself with food and other necessities, but once he reaches another country, he tries to adapt to the local surroundings, tastes and spices to expand his understanding.
The one constant throughout is his camel and Al Qassemi teaches participants on the Hamdan Heritage Centre trek how to forge a bond with the creatures, each of which has its own distinctive personality and temperament.
“When you touch the camel, it ca detect the vibes from your heart. The camel knows if the man is good or not good, just by the touch of the hand,” Al Qassemi explains. “There is great wisdom in this creature and the strength of this animal can teach its rider a lot.”
Al Qassemi hopes that the camel trek will give participants a taste of Bedouin life and offer a break from the fast-paced nature of modern society.
The second trek attracted participants from all over the world, including two female participants for the first time, who successfully traversed the vast 500km route on camelback.
On February 1, the second convoy reached Dubai’s Global village to mark the end of a soul-searching journey that gives the individuals involved a brand new tale to be told.
The preparations for the next Camel trek in 2017 are already underway, visit http://www.hhc.gov.ae/en for the latest news on the upcoming events.