Dubai – MENA Herald: As part of the Sultanate’s 45th National Day celebrations, with the blessing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said and under the patronage of HH Sayyid Haitham bin Tariq Al Said in Oman and HRH Prince Charles – The Prince of Wales in the United Kingdom and HE Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani in Qatar, the ‘Crossing the Empty Quarter’ expedition was unveiled to media at an official event held at the Diplomatic Club in Muscat on Sunday. For only the second time in recorded history an attempt is being made to cross the Rub al Khali, the biggest sand desert in the world. A team of Omani and British explorers will leave from Salalah in Oman on 10th December and walk across the desert through the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to Doha in Qatar.
The press conference, which unveiled details of the journey, was held under the auspices of His Excellency Sayyid Badr bin Hamad Albusaidi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was attended by Ambassadors of the United Kingdom and the State of Qatar in addition to a number of government officials and representatives of the media. During the proceedings, Mark Evans spoke of the details of the expedition, the targets of this noble journey and the historic facts of the original journey that took place almost 85 years ago.
On this occasion HE Sayyid Badr Albusaidi, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented: “Oman history holds many important historic events that haven’t had light shed upon them such as the first recorded crossing of the Empty Quarter took place in 1930. This expedition comes as part of the 45th National Day, celebrating the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said – the first patron of the youth and reflects his determination to equip and inspire Omani youth to be prepared for future challenges. We are very proud of the many achievements of our Omani young people, and their continuous efforts that raises’ the Omani flag on the world stage in a whole variety of ways. This challenge is further evidence of the potential of Omanis to face the various difficulties to achieve honorable goals, stemming from their noble characters. We wish the participants all the best on this journey in their quest to build on the achievements of their ancestors.”
The journey aims to inspire young Omanis to embody the fundamentals of responsibility and self-dependence and endurance in order to overcome challenges of the 21st century and achieve their goals. They will depart on the 10th of December 20105 on a two month journey with the expedition team that includes two Omanis; Mohammed Al Zadjali and Amour Al Wahaibi, and British explorer Mark Evans. They will depart from Bait Mirbat Salalah with the aim to reach Doha at the end of January 2016, a journey of 1,300 kilometers.
The 2015 expedition will trace the route taken by the first men credited with making the crossing in 1930. British explorer Bertram Thomas and Sheikh Saleh bin bin Kalut took sixty days to reach their destination negotiating their way through warring tribes, sand storms and an unforgiving landscape, combatting scorching heat, freezing nights, blinding sandstorms and surviving on a diet of brackish water, dates, dried meat and packet soup. The 2015 expedition will again be conducted solely on foot and by camel train.
Mark Evans, General Manager of Outward Bound Oman and head of the Crossing the Empty Quarter expedition team said: “We are proud to be undertaking this historic and challenging expedition, and look forward to starting the journey in a little over one months’ time. One of our key objectives is to encourage and inspire young people, and instill the idea that success in life can only be achieved by sustained hard work, willingness and team spirit.”
Another expedition team member, Mohammed Al Zadjali said: “I am excited to be taking part in this challenge, which reminds us of the historical events in the Sultanate of which many people are not aware. The original Empty-Quarter crossing by Bertram Thomas and Sheikh Saleh bin Kalut was undertaken in 1930 and their achievement was met with global acclaim, however many people today have forgotten this great accomplishment. I am honored to carry the Omani flag during this fantastic expedition and spread this message to the Omani Youth, and express to them that ambition is the key to achieving goals with hard work and planning.”
The Awareness Campaign
To capture footage of the expedition, a media team will accompany the expedition party on the first leg of the journey from Salalah to the Saudi border.
The Crossing the Empty Quarter expedition is also accompanied by an intensive awareness in schools and media campaign using traditional media, social media, commercial malls, cinema screens, and Muscat and Salalah airports and Oman Air inflight screens.
Alongside the expedition there will be a ten week Instagram Competition for young Omanis.
They will be invited to be inspired, take on the challenges and take a picture inspired be different themes and quotes.
Competition winners will receive one of 36 free places on a life changing Outward Bound Oman ‘Skills for Life’ course aimed at giving youth the tools to achieve their future dreams and goals (14-17 years category), or one of six places on the UNESCO Connecting Cultures Course held in Oman where winners will represent Oman on the international stage (18-25 years category)
The Crossing the Empty Quarter expedition is grateful for the generous support provided by a number of government and private companies in preparing for this event, including; Outward Bound Oman, the Omani-Qatari telecommunication Company (Ooredoo), Muscat City Center, Oman Airport Management Company, Oman Air, VOX cinema, Muscat Grand Mall, Al Futtaim Automotive (FAMCO), Thuraya, City Cinema and Nomas, CfBT.