UAE team to retrace Silk Road to bridge cultures

Expedition will coincide with the China Travellers Festival and cover five countries, 22 cities, and 15,000km in total

Dubai: A team of UAE-based drivers will embark on a month-long journey by land from the UAE to China, traversing 15,000km in total, to promote cultural exchange and dialogue.

Called the ‘1% Drive Master UAE to China’ trip, the expedition will feature 15 automobile aficionados of different nationalities from the UAE and China who will drive along the New Silk Road from September 23 to October 23. The trip will coincide with the China Travellers Festival on October 19 to 21.

The trip is organised in cooperation with the Emirates Travellers Festival (ETF), under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince, the Emirates Motor Sports Federation (EMSF), Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, among other entities.

“This will be the first gathering for global travellers in China under the name of the China Travellers Festival. This event is expected to strengthen the cultural relations between the UAE and China, especially following the historical visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to the UAE in July,” Awad Mohammad Shaikh Mujirin, Chairman of the ETF, said.

Atiq Hassan Mubarak, Director-General of EMSF, said the trip underlines the UAE’s support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative and fosters friendship between the two peoples. He also encouraged people of all nationalities to register with the federation at the earliest if they wanted to be a part of such trips in the future.

The members of the expedition on all-terrain vehicles will cross five countries beginning with a three-day trip around the UAE. They will then fly to Turkmenistan where their vehicles will be waiting for them and drive across 22 cities in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and finally to Xian City in the Shanxi province of China.

Ninghai Ma, founder of the ‘1% Drive Master UAE to China’, said the trip offers spectacular views of the historical Silk Road. The route was an ancient trade course that links China with the West.

“Each city where we will stop over has its own highlights, its own culture and people. Thirteen events have been organised along the way to promote local culture. The route also offers breath-taking views for the participants particularly the snowy mountains of Kazakhstan and its plateaus and even the final destination, the Xian City, has a more than 2,000-year history,” Ninghai, Chairman of DY Life International, Dubai, told Gulf News.

Ninghai, also the founder of the first Arab-Chinese Automobile Club, said he called the tour ‘1%’ because of the nature of the participants.

“Ninety-nine per cent of people talk about their dreams while only 1 per cent make them happen. We encourage everyone to join the 1% to gain courage and make their dream come true.”

Among those making this dream come true is lawyer Ziad Hassouneh, a seasoned rally driver and off-road driver based in Dubai.

“The logo of 1% is true on this subject. Some people love to swim, or jog, or run. For me driving is my life. This trip is unique and I’m sure I’ll get more experience about the road, different cultures, countries, and about the people,” Hassouneh told Gulf News.

“The biggest challenge is to cover the 15,000km accident-free. In all my trips, I will only consider them a success if everyone is safe.”

Another participant, Hussain Rabah from Jordan, said having the opportunity to see the scenic spots along the way the adventure of spending 85 per cent of their time in rural places are what he finds most exciting about the trip.

The team will be spending four to nine hours on the road covering between 500km and 700km daily.

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