The sands of time:  Ahmed Al Qassemi brings Bedouin ways into 21st Century with Hamdan Heritage Centre Camel Trek

Hiba Khan 10/02/2016
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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.

The second convoy trained under Ahmed Al Qassimi are led across the desert by Mohammed Bin Taryam during the camel trek organized by Hamdan Heritage Centre.

The second convoy trained under Ahmed Al Qassimi are led across the desert by Mohammed Bin Taryam during the camel trek organized by Hamdan Heritage Centre.

“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.”

The convoy traversed 500 km along with two female participants for the first time ever.

The convoy traversed 500 km along with two female participants for the first time ever.

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.

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On this day: February 10, 2008 – Dwain Chambers coasts to emphatic win after two-year drugs ban

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Sprinter Dwain Chambers returned to athletics eight years ago today.

On this day eight years ago, controversial sprinter Dwain Chambers returned from a two-year drugs ban to record a dominant victory in the 60m event at the World Indoor Trials and National Championships in Sheffield.

Chambers’ win guaranteed him a place in the British squad for the World Indoor Championships in Valencia for the following month, as per the UKA’s selection policy.

And the sprinter did not let his country down, winning a silver medal at the meet in Spain.

Here’s what else also happened on this day in sport:

1893: Bill Tilden, who became the first American to win the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 1920, was born. He successfully defended his crown the following year, claimed a third title at SW19 in 1930 and also won seven US Opens. He died aged 60 on June 5, 1953.

1992: Former world heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was found guilty of rape. He later received a six-year prison sentence.

2000: John Barnes was sacked as Celtic boss.

2003: The Premier League rejected Charlton’s claim that their 4-1 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge was played on an artificial surface. Chelsea had covered the pitch in sand in preparation for a complete relaying of the surface. The Blues, however, were fined £5,000 for breaching rules regarding conduct between two clubs.

2007: Jonny Wilkinson became the all-time leading points scorer in the Five and Six Nations after scoring a third-minute penalty against Italy at Twickenham. Wilkinson kicked five penalties in total as England struggled to a 20-7 win.

2008: Egypt retained the African Nations Cup with a 1-0 win over Cameroon.

2011: The England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed former England all-rounder Trevor Bailey had died in a house fire.

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On this day: February 9, 2009 - Luiz Felipe Scolari sacked as Chelsea manager

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Scolari was sacked after less than one season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Luiz Felipe Scolari became the latest victim of Roman Abramovich’s short fuse with managers and was sacked as Chelsea boss after a poor run of form.

The Brazilian World Cup-winning coach lasted less than one season in west London and was dismissed after a goalless home draw with Hull City.

Scolari joined in July 2008 with big expectations after guiding Portugal to the quarter-finals of Euro 2008 but the experienced coach didn’t live up to the billing in the English Premier League.

Coincidentally, as was the case this season following Jose Mourinho’s departure, Guus Hiddink took over in an interim role for the first time at Stamford Bridge.

Here’s what else also happened on this day:

1540: The first recorded horse race meeting in England took place at Chester’s Roodee Fields.

1998: Lawrie McMenemy, out of football since resigning after his second spell as Southampton manager, became the first non-Ulsterman to manage Northern Ireland. Joe Jordan and Pat Jennings were named as his assistants. McMenemy resigned two years later.

2006: Former England manager Ron Greenwood died at the age of 84 after a long illness. Greenwood, who also managed West Ham, was in charge of England at the 1982 World Cup finals.

2009: Champion jockey Tony McCoy recorded his 3,000th jumps winner aboard Restless D’Artaix at Plumpton.

2009: Two Premier League managers left their post as first Tony Adams was sacked as Portsmouth boss, before Luiz Felipe Scolari was dismissed by Chelsea.

2012: The Football Association confirmed Stuart Pearce would take temporary charge of the England team for the friendly against Holland on February 29 following the resignation of Fabio Capello. Roy Hodgson was appointed as Capello’s permanent successor in May of that year.

2014: Jenny Jones won Great Britain’s first Winter Olympic medal on snow when she finished third in the snowboard slopestyle event in Sochi.

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