Abu Dhabi: The 36th Gulf News Overnighter Fun Drive came to an end on Saturday even as the excitement of the previous day’s adventure still seemed to captivate the participants who spent the night at the desert campsite.
The overnight event saw around 850 cars drive 240km in Abu Dhabi’s Liwa desert, which ended at the campsite at the base of Moreeb dune. After a day’s off-roading, participants were treated to a BBQ dinner and an evening of festivities that lasted till the late hours.
The camp’s location, at one of the world’s tallest sand dunes, prompted many to try and climb the 300-metre dune although many found it to be a challenge. On Saturday, the breakfast tent, the final event of the Fun Drive, was buzzing with people, who could often be seen reflecting and sharing their experience with friends and family over food.
“We did all the checkpoints and we finished by 4pm, everyone said we had finished really early,” said Pradeesh Raj who was enjoying a relaxing breakfast with his family of six.
Raj was returning to the event with his wife, Merline, for the fifth time, saying the drive was extremely popular with their children. This time, they had brought two of their relative’s children.
“The children love it and look forward to doing it again and again. They never seem to get enough,” said his wife.
The couple said they were planning to relax for a couple of hours before trying to climb Moreeb dune.
Laughter could be heard from a group of around 10 people at a table nearby who seemed deeply involved in teasing one another about their driving skills at the previous day’s event.
“We were about 15 cars yesterday and we had a great time off-roading,” said 48-year-old Samer Al Fakir from Syria.
Al Fakir and his friends were returning to the event for the fourth time.
“It is starting to become a tradition among us,” said Khalil Al Amiri, an Emirati member of the group.
The 31-year-old added that as they were off-roaders, they also enjoyed helping the first timers throughout the course.
“It’s fun drive, not racing. If we see anyone who needs help we stop and help,” said Al Amiri.
“That’s the spirit of the whole event,” he added.
The Fun Drive has been growing every year and its success would not have been possible without the support of all sponsors and organisations. The main sponsor of the event is Al Futtaim Motors (Toyota).
Checkpoint sponsors are BF Goodrich, Dubai Duty Free, Orient Tours, Pringles, The Off Road Company (TORC), TOTAL and V Tools.
Support sponsors are Byrne, Miraclz by Danube, Dunkin Donuts, Emirates Water, Medeor Hospital, Nature Valley, Liwa Hotel and Wildcraft.
TOTAL are the Lubricants Sponsor and vehicle numbers are sponsored by Amity University.
The event’s catering is by JA Resorts & Hotels, Mafraq Hotel and Emirates Flight Catering.
The event is also supported by Al Gharbia Sports Club and International Automobile Touring Club.
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