Walked by: Umesh Goel and Devendra Singh

It was Nov 30th 2017, the Martyrs Day. The UAE was gearing up to celebrate its 46th National Day. People were in a holiday mood and busy planning the long weekend. Amidst this festive fervour, there were two Indian expatriates who were thinking a tad differently. The duo consisting of Umesh Goel and Devendra Singh were beginning their inspirational initiative to Walk 7 Emirates in order to express their gratitude towards their home away from home, the United Arab Emirates and also to pay homage to the martyrs of UAE.

WALK 7 EMIRATES was undertaken on the 30th November on Martyrs’ Day by two Indian expats, Umesh Goel, 44 and Devendra Singh, 32 who walked 172kms passing through all seven Emirates.
Both Goel and Singh were very excited about accomplishing their objective. “It was a landmark day for the UAE and we wanted to celebrate this in a unique manner. Hence, we decided to walk across all the Emirates to commemorate the unity and diversity, which is an essence of UAE culture. Also, we wanted to pay our tribute to the martyrs and heroes of UAE and express our gratitude to the rulers of Dubai and UAE for developing this country as a diversified melting pot of all nationalities where we enjoy our lives with friends and family. We also wanted to inspire the younger generation to believe that it’s possible to achieve our dreams, whatever the challenges,” said Goel, who has been a passionate runner and fitness fanatic and has successfully completed a number of 10K, half marathons and full marathons. Singh, who works for a leading property developer has been passionate about running for some time as well.

When asked about how the duo decided to team up for this walk, Goel explained, “We discussed the idea of walking the seven Emirates with a few close friends. Though everybody liked the idea, only four of us decided to take this walk and started regular practice and training. Two out of us had to drop out due to medical reasons. But Devendra was confident and provided good support. Eventually, both of us were able to accomplish our goal.”

The duo is extremely proud of the support that they received from their friends and family. One of their colleagues joined them impromptu in the walk and walked for 27kms till RAK when he decided to go back home because of pain and cramps. Umesh Goel, an architect by education and a real estate professional said, “My wife, kids and close friends walked with me during the last leg of the walk on the first day, which was also the toughest 10km. This motivated us to sail through the most tiresome part of our walk.”

They continued walking along the main roads starting from Fujairah through Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah, Dubai, finishing at the first ADNOC station in Abu Dhabi walking for 26 hours on the first day and 16 hours on the second, with a break of 15 hours in Dubai. Overall, the duo clocked in a total of 52 hours of walk time to complete the 172kms stretch on foot.

Having said this, the pair worked voraciously to prepare themselves for this walk. “We have been preparing for this long walk for more than two months. Thursday nights were reserved for practicing long walks of up to eight hours, covering 45kms in one go.”

In a joint statement they said, “When we planned this walk, we knew, we were venturing into unknown territory. The support of the friends who joined us in the middle of the night and day, during the holidays was a great morale booster and made the task easier’, the duo added that“Many people stopped by on the road to enquire about our well-being and appreciated our effort. These small gestures kept on giving us more and more strength.”

Quite happy about accomplishing their goal, Goel added, ‘It is an experience of a lifetime and I see no better way to pay tribute to a country where I have spent the most important period of my life”. However, both vouch that it was not a cakewalk. “There were challenges of many kinds. To begin with, we were expecting a temperature of 22-23 degrees but it turned out to be around 12-13 degrees C. We were not prepared for this kind of temperature. It was rather windy and the trucks passing by at high speed created more wind pressure. Another challenge was that there were few intersections where it was difficult to cross the road.

Hence, we decided to detour and walked on the internal roads of Sharjah. It did make our walk a little longer, but it was much more peaceful and safer. Though, most of the highway till we reached Ajman was rather traffic-free because of UAE Martyrs’ Day holiday. But once we reached Ajman towards Sharjah and Dubai, there was a lot of traffic and noise.”

When asked if they would like to dabble into something similar in future, Goel said, “There are a couple of ideas, we are working on. One is to cycle from one end of UAE (in the north east in Fujairah, to the other end at Ghuwaifat (on Saudi border). We are also exploring the option of doing an off-road trek covering the seven Emirates. Not sure as to what will work out eventually, our whole idea is to stay inspired and keep inspiring.” ■

Walk 7 Emirates
Who – Umesh Goel, 44 and
Devendra Singh, 32 (both Indian)

When – 30th Nov’2017, 1am
to 2nd Dec. 2017, 2am with a 15 hour break

Kms covered – 172

Total walk time – 52 hours

Words by: Bandana Jain