Muscat: Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad Al Thani, president of the Qatar Olympic Committee received the “Crossing of the Empty Quarter” team at the historic Al Rayyan fort in Doha, the original destination for the 1930 expedition conducted by Bertram Thomas and his colleague Sheikh Saleh bin Kalut.
Among the other receiving dignitaries was Salah bin Ghanem Al Ali, minister of Youth and Sport in Qatar, Qatari government officials, and representatives from the Oman Embassy in Doha.
The tired and weary expedition team, which included two Omani explorers; Mohammed Al Zadjali and Amour Al Wahaibi and the British explorer Mark Evans, arrived in Doha, Qatar yesterday, having successfully crossed the Empty Quarter desert, the largest sand desert in the world.
The expedition set off on foot from the wilayat of Salalah in the Dhofar Governorate last December to cross the Empty Quarter desert, traversing through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to reach Doha in Qatar. The expedition was originally expected to take 60 days, however the rigorous desert crossing took just 49 days, due to the fast pace set by the expedition’s team members.
The “Crossing the Empty Quarter” expedition was aimed at popularising the concept of responsibility and self-reliance among Arab youth, and for them to bear hardships to achieve their goals. To underline the principles of determination and self-reliance, the team crossed 1,300km, walking and riding camels in only the second ever documented expedition across the Empty Quarter in modern history.
Mark Evans, the expedition team leader, spoke of the achievement and the relief of arriving at the historic Al Rayyan fort in Doha, “We received an extremely warm reception in Doha, and it is stunning to see the modern surroundings of the fort, compared with what was also witnessed by Bertram Thomas and his colleague Sheikh Saleh bin Kalut back in 1930, some 85 years ago.”
Evans added, “This challenge was aimed at inspiring and encouraging Arab youth to take on the personal responsibilities for their future success and to rely on themselves to overcome various obstacles in life. As a society, we all need to work hard to achieve our goals in life, besides preserving the cultural history of the region.”
On the team’s arrival in Doha, Mohammed Al Zadjali, expedition team member noted, “We thank the almighty for our safe arrival in Doha.”