After 15,000-km ride, Oman bikers back

MUSCAT, Oct 10  -After more than a month-long ride in some of the toughest terrains in the world — from unpaved mountainous roads to sandy deserts and muddy country roads to super highways —they are back in their home soil.
Nine members of the Oman Riders Club, who covered 15,000 km on bikes with a mission to spread peace and harmony across the world, returned home on Tuesday.
“We are back after our historic journey through Arabian Peninsula and the African continent,” Hamoud Khamis al Noufli and Khalid told the Observer.
“Thank you all for your prayers from the very beginning and throughout the journey on social media and for the warm welcome when we are back,” they said.
UAE was their first country of visit, from where they rode to Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland and Lesotho, before reaching Pretoria in South Africa. In Pretoria, they were welcomed by the Oman Embassy headed by Mubarak al Zakhwani, Oman’s Ambassador to South Africa, who accorded them a warm welcome.
They bikers travelled through swathes of Arabian deserts and the wilderness of Africa.
The journey was tougher than they had thought. Blowing winds, tough terrain and wild animals en route posed quite a
challenge.
Many a times, they lost their way on the country roads, while sandstorms upset their travel calculations. “These youngsters, led by Hamoud Khamis al Noufli, were on a goodwill mission of conveying their message of friendship and the bond Oman is sharing with South Africa. We are happy they are back safe and healthy,” said Manabile Shogole, Ambassador of South African Embassy.
“We were concerned about their safety, but these young Omanis were gritty, which helped them scale heights,” said Sibusisiwe Mangoegape, Charge D’affaires, South African Embassy.
The bikers’ team comprised Khalid al Azri, Abdullah al Muqaimi, Abdullah al Touqi, Mubarak al Kiyumi, Saud al Habsi, Majdi Baharesh, Mohammed Eissa al Balushi and Hamed al Hajri, besides Hamoud.
Oman Automobile Association, to which the riders’ club belongs, is a patron, while Oman’s Ministry of Tourism has backed the team.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) was in the forefront, facilitating the documentation process to ensure a smooth ride during the trip. Omantel and some private firms too were backing them.

KABEER YOUSUF