28th November  to  2nd December 2011 | United Arab Emirates

Cycle The Seven Emirates 2011

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Cycle the Seven Emirates

United Arab Emirates

November 28 – December 2, 2011

Cycling – 5 days – passing through all 7 of the United Arab Emirates and covering just under 400km

Sponsored by Fitness First, this was G4G's 36th challenge.

The trip was our second adventure to cycle through all seven Emirates of the UAE and even a little corner of Oman!

Starting in Al Ain, the route took us on open roads, mountain trails, coastal roads and desert tracks.   Staying in a mixture of small local motel and desert camp, this challenge gave us a taste of the Emirates, before our triumphant return to Dubai on the UAE National Day!

Level: Hard, the challenge was achievable by anyone who maintained a certain level of fitness, i.e. regularly in the gym, swimming, walking, etc. There were free training sessions at Fitness First in Dubai to support your training

Number of participants: maximum of 25

Registration fee: Dhs 2,200

Minimum sponsorship: Dhs 12,000

Assistance provided in advance by G4G: Fund-raising ideas; training & fitness suggestions; safety & medical advice; clothing & equipment advice.

What G4G provided on the Challenge: all transfers; motel/tents/barasti; all food & water; guides; medical assistance & back up.

Essential to leave behind: Day-to-day problems.

Essential to bring: Determination & a sense of humour!

Cycle the Seven Emirates

United Arab Emirates

November 28 – December 2, 2011

This was a tough challenge designed for fit mountain bikers. The route contained one steep off-road trail, a few steep road sections and fairly long distances. Participants should have cycled regularly before the event to improve fitness and technical skills.

Day 1: Monday 28th November

Met in Arabian Ranches, Le Marche shopping center parking lot at 7am.  The participants could park their car here for the duration of the trip.  Loaded bikes and geared and drove to Al Ain; bikes were transported on our bike trailer. 10am started cycle challenge near the Buraimi border post. Cycled across the border into Oman and continued to our camp site near the Ray pools.  Today’s ride was mainly flat and passed Jebel Qatara and on to the Hajjar mountains.  Stopped for a packed lunch during the day. Total distance 80 km (approx. 6 hours). Dinner and overnight in tented camp.

Day 2: Tuesday 29th November

Woke up at 7.30am.  After 8.30am breakfast started cycling at 9.  Cycled on undulating tarmac road past Ray before heading onto the hard gravel track just before the Hatta pools.  Challengers could pay a short visit to the pools if they had the energy!  The cycle continued to the Hatta Fort Hotel for lunch overlooking the pool.  The afternoon was a challenging ride on mountain roads to Kalba and along the corniche to finish the day at the Fujairah Hilton.  Loaded bikes and transferred to our plantation camp in Dibba.  Total distance 90 km (8 hours).  Dinner and overnight at plantation camp.

Day 3: Wednesday 30th November

Woke up at 7.30am.  After 8.30am breakfast cycled at 9.30am from camp to Tawyeen (2 hours).  We then cycled on a scenic mountain road, after about 10km on the tarmac we headed off-road into wadi Yaakel Alas.  The rough trail took us past many farms as we headed further into the mountains.  The trail continued over a high pass (500m) before dropping down into Wadi Sana.  The trail continued downhill until reaching a tarmac road.  Followed this road for 13 km before heading onto the rough stuff in wadi Sidr until reaching the town of Al Ghail.  Dinner and overnight in tents near Al Ghail. Total distance 75 km (about 6 hours cycling).

Day 4: Thursday 1st December

Woke up at 6am.  Left for charity visit to Al Manar School in Ajman at 7am.  Breakfast on the bus. Returned to camp around 10.15am and started cycling at 10.30am.  The first few kilometers today were on tarmac until we headed into the desert on sandy trails towards Falaj Al Mualla in UAQ.  From this quiet town we cycled on good roads through Dhaid and on to our desert camp near the Maleha Archeological site, in the shadow of Fossil Rock, for dinner and overnight camping.  Total cycle distance 65 km.

Day 5: Friday 2nd December

Woke up at 7am.  Breakfast at 8am.  Started cycling at 9am.  Today’s route was all on quiet tarmac roads, passing near Fossil Rock, then the farming town of  Nazwa before finishing the morning at the Hatta road (44 km).  Picnic lunch near Nazwa.  A short transfer was followed by an afternoon ride through Al Lisaili to our finish line at the Bab Al Shams Desert Resort.  Total cycle distance 77 km. We had a short celebration at Bab Al Shams before we transferred back to Dubai/Arabian Ranches to pick up personal vehicles.

Notes: This itinerary may change due to border regulation changes, unusual weather patterns, wildlife movements, group strength, etc.   We will endeavour to keep to the planned itinerary, but cannot be held responsible for last minute changes that might occur. In all such circumstances, the group leader will have the final say.

This itinerary is tough and you may encounter poor weather.   The route is not for the unfit or the faint-hearted.

Most mountain routes have occasional exposure to sheer drops.   Therefore, should you suffer from vertigo, you should discuss the itinerary with a member of our team.

Sponsored by Fitness First


Between the months of November and February a moderate, warm climate prevails during the day at an average temperature of 26°C, and the nights are slightly cooler with an average temperature of 15°C.   North-westerly winds (shamal) sometimes blow during these winter months.


The most important and simple thing you can do to prevent illness is to be properly immunized. Our medical adviser recommends that you should be immunized against Hepatitis A and B and Tetanus.   All necessary immunizations should be taken 6-8 weeks before travel to allow time for the shots to take affect.    Contact your GP for more information.

In Dubai, these are available at the Travel Clinic at Al Mankhool Health Center in Bur Dubai: 04 502 1200 (walk in clinic open Sunday – Thursday from 7:30am – 2:00pm. CASH ONLY) Clinic Medicentres International in Motor City: 04-360-8866 & Prime Medical Center - 04-349-4545.

Dr. Kersten Elliot, a chiropodist/podiatrist from Dubai Physiotherapy and Family medicine Clinic, 04 349 6333, is happy to provide a 50% discount on consultation fees – please take your G4G Registration Cover Letter as proof that you are a registered challenger.

The challenge is rated as HARD, so good fitness is required - start training as early as possible. Keep hydrated by drinking water regularly.


You will be cycling for several hours per day, so it is important that you start a training programme at least three months prior to the Challenge.   The best training for cycling is actually riding a bicycle (!) or at least going on the cycling machine in the gym.   Most gyms will be happy to assist you in achieving your fitness (and some may even help you fundraise!) The challenge is described as a hard test of all round fitness.   You need to be fit and healthy to participate.

There will be free training sessions at Fitness First in Dubai to support your training routine.

Visa information

Check if your passport is valid for at least 6 months prior to travel.   You should also have a couple of clean pages (no stamps!) left in the passport.

Citizens of GCC countries do not need a visa to visit the UAE.   Other nationalities will have to check the new visa system on the DNRD website.   Citizens of 33 countries can get visas on arrival at Dubai Airport.   Citizens from other countries require a visa sponsored by a UAE citizen or resident.

We encourage all travelers to check what the visa requirements are for their particular nationality in advance from the Dubai Government to avoid surprises.


Travel & Medical Insurance

G4G can arrange travel and medical insurance for all participants traveling from abroad.  You will be required to pay your insurance premium in addition to your sponsorship target.   Further details about the premium, type of cover, insurance terms and conditions, etc. are available on request. (Aed 20 per day)

If you are a resident of UAE and have your own Insurance cover, please ensure that you are covered for activities such as biking in the UAE and provide us a copy of the policy.


A comprehensive fundraising booklet is included in your challenge pack.   It is always good to arrange private fundraising "events" as well as asking family, friends and colleagues for money. Fundraising in this way increases your profile, creates more goodwill and raises awareness of the work of the nominated charities.   The G4G office can give you names of previous challengers who will be happy to offer advice and maybe even assistance. Be aware that there are rules and regulations controlling public fundraising in the UAE – if you have any questions, contact our office.


We take your safety very seriously.   It is our first and never forgotten priority.    Please listen to your guides and follow their instructions.

Respect for the Environment

We maintain a firm commitment to conserve the areas we work in and ask you to do the same. Take only photographs and leave behind only tyre/footprints!

A Typical Day

You will receive a full pre-challenge briefing.    A typical day varies according to the different terrain and distance.   However you can expect a normal day to start at 6am with breakfast served at 7am.   You should have packed up and be ready to leave by 8.00am.   In the morning there are usually 3 -4 hours of cycling before the stop for lunch, followed by 2-3 hours in the afternoon.   Before dinner, there is time to relax, socialize, play games or explore the area. Special dietary requirements can be catered for with prior notice.   Drinking water is available throughout the day.

Mental Preparation

It is well within you to complete this challenge.   Remain in a positive state of mind, without being overly confident.   This mental stamina will make the more difficult parts easier to complete.   Always focus on your goal and do not get involved in inconsequential matters that will rob you of your concentration.   Being physically prepared assists a great deal in being mentally confident for the physical part of the Challenge, so train hard!

Miscellaneous Information

Local Currency: Dirhams (AED)

 As of 10 April 2011:

 1 USD = 3.67 AED

1 GBP = 6.01 AED

 Electricity in the UAE is 240 Volts, alternating at 50 cycles per second.   Outlets in the UAE are generally British style plugs with 2 flat blades and 1 flat grounding blade.   However, some may be the European 2 pin plugs and an adaptor will be required. 

In the plantation camp there are power points available to charge electronic gear.   No facilities are available in remote camps.

 A good reference book is the Oman, UAE & Arabian Peninsula Travel Guide from the Lonely Planet publications, available in Dubai from Magrudy's, Borders, etc.   Alternatively, you could buy only the online version of the UAE chapter of this book.

Personal Equipment

Travel light! Do limit the weight of your luggage to less than 15 Kgs overall (Duffle Bag and Bag Pack inclusive) All bags are to be clearly marked and lockable.   (G4G soft sided duffle bags are available at Aed 100)

Do not take or wear any valuables on the trip, it is best to leave them at home.

How to Pack

Your clothes and equipment should fall into two categories:

1.What you are going to wear and need on the Challenge. This should fit into a single soft-sided bag and will be transported each day from site to site.

2.What you are going to carry in your daypack.

In The Day Pack

It is important that you pack carefully the smaller Day Pack that you carry yourself.   Anything you need during the course

of the day should be in your Day Pack, including, most importantly, something warm and something waterproof.

Sun glasses / Moisturizing/Sun screen lotion / Prescribed medicines/ Camera and spare film / Binoculars-optional /Note book & Pencil / Water bottle and Camelback bladder / Snacks / Permits, if any / Toilet paper / rain gear / Energy powder mix / Warm layer / Extra shirt*

 * It’s advisable to carry an extra T-shirt in your daypack.   When you stop cycling, you may feel cold after sweating and need to change your shirt or add a layer to prevent chills.

Thoughts and ideas

•Be kind to your feet! If you plan on purchasing new shoes, do so well ahead of time and allow yourself time to break them in.   Bring some extra moleskin or Second Skin (Compeed) for fast foot treatment, plus zinc oxide tape, and watch out for blisters.

•Cotton is wonderful in warm weather, but once it becomes wet, it drains your body heat.   Plan on bringing at least one synthetic shirt that dries quickly.   Suggestions are Capilene, M.T.S. and Thermax.

•Stuff sacks are great for sorting your gear.   Use different sizes and colors to differentiate the contents.   Plastic bags are also helpful to separate clean and dirty clothing, as well as giving an extra layer of waterproofing inside your bags.

•If you normally wear contacts, bring a pair of glasses in case of eye irritation from dust.

•Some of the trails can be rutted and dusty.   It is a good idea to pack camera equipment and binoculars in plastic bags to protect them from the dust.   This is in addition to their normal cases.   Also bring some lens cleaning material.

•Laundry is difficult on this trip but you can hand-wash a few quick-drying items.

•Make 1 copy of your passport and take it with you; we will have a second copy in our files.

The Bike

A hardtail mountain bike is ideal for the Emirates Cycle Challenge.   All the good mountain bike stores are located on the Sheikh Zayed Road between interchanges 2 & 3.   The staff in these stores will be able to advise and fit the correct bike.
Some participants may bring a full suspension mountain bike.   These are OK, especially if they have adjustable suspension, although they are not so good on the tarmac sections.

A hybrid (or cross) bike will be great on the roads but not so good on the rough stuff and will probably have several punctures as the tyres are narrower and not so hard wearing.

A mountain bike with front or full suspension and fitted with off-road tyres is suitable.   Disc brakes will perform better on the steep sections but normal V brakes are fine.

A mountain bike from a good brand like Trek, Giant, Cannondale, Specialized or Scott with a 24 or 27 gear, front suspension, good brakes with a gel saddle should be good enough for the UAE challenge.

It is possible to rent bikes from the Ground Handler for Aed 500 for the challenge with advance notice.

The following notes are from the local Ground Handler who will be leading the trek:

Food and Drinks

On the trek, the ground handlers will serve you wholesome food and water for replenishment and to meet your energy requirements.   Special dietary requirements can be provided on ADVANCE request.

The plantation camp in Dibba has a full kitchen on site.   In the remote camps food will be brought in from local restaurants or prepared by support staff.

Staff On The Trip

One English-speaking Guide/Escort will be wholly responsible for the execution of the trip. There will also be a G4G representative leading the challenge.

 The Ground Handler Will provide

All transfers including transfer to the start location, accommodation, tents for camping days, daily meals & water.   All your gear will be transported each day to the night stop, except daily necessities carried in your own daypack.

Your accommodation will be shared, in a mix of tented camps and basic hotels.

The hotel and plantation camp in Dibba have showers, toilets and hand basins.   The remote camps will have toilet tents with chemical toilets and water for washing.  The hotel is air-conditioned.  The plantation camp in Dibba has ceiling fans; the remote camps do not have fans or a/c.

In Dibba tents are 6x4m canvas tents with bunk beds, ceiling fan, lights and power socket.   In remote camps we use nylon dome tents with mattresses.

Bike Mechanic

A qualified bike mechanic will accompany the group with repair stand and professional tools. You are encouraged to bring a repair kit and spare tubes to fix your own punctures.   The mechanic will help but could take time to reach you on the trail.

The mechanic can repair most mechanical failures during lunch or overnight breaks.   If major components are damaged this may not be possible.

Safety and Support

Support cars will follow participants, tired or injured cyclists can ride in the vehicles if needed.

All support staff are qualified to (at least) Wilderness First Aid level.   Comprehensive first aid kits are carried by all staff.   Support staff are all aware of the nearest medical facilities along the route.

General Matters

Your personal belongings will be looked after by our staff, so please help them by not leaving them unattended in public places.

Money On The Challenge

You may want to buy drinks at wayside shops and souvenirs from the locals.   Small change should be carried.   Be prepared to give between Aed 100 – Aed 180 to staff as tips.   This will be discussed in detail at the pre-trek briefing (approx 1 month before the challenge).


The UAE challenge is supporting 2 very worthy charities in the UAE:

Al Manar Charity School in Ajman (details below)

Click for future updates

Special Needs Future Development Center: 

Some of the funds left over from the UAE 2011 Cycle the Seven Emirates challenge have been assigned to SNF to acquire a bigger bus so as to comfortably commute students from their residences to the Center every day. The increasing number of students was making it difficult to accommodate them in the small van.

Gulf For Good with a special discount from Al Futtaim Motors has been able to get a 2014 Toyota Coaster for SNF (at cost).

Click for future updates


Original Information

The Al Manar Charity School is located in Ajman.   It provides free schooling to more than 2,400 children up to the age of 16, but has no government funding, so is reliant entirely on public donations.

The children are of 36 different nationalities.   More than 400 of these children are either abandoned or orphaned and at least 2000 of them are living in very vulnerable conditions.

At present, the school has over 60 classrooms and is divided into infant, girls, boys and senior sections, with approx 35 children per classroom.

In order to make the school safe and to create a proper environment in which these unfortunate children can learn, the school needs the following items:

  • new a/c units
  • new doors/door frames
  • multiple floor tiles
  • new/repaired roof
  • toilets in girls section
  • small new area concreted for playground
  • making good all electrical cabling

There is no website for this charity, but you can find out more by contacting our office at


You can rest assured that Gulf for Good do not just hand out money to the charities we support!   We request detailed proposals for capital projects - hospital wards, orphanage buildings, classrooms, fresh water facilities, medical equipment, etc.   We have a system whereby we check these proposals with the assistance of an independent third party in the charity's country.   Once approved and the funds raised, we will usually pay 50% up front to allow the project to start, the rest only being paid against invoices.



•Mountain Bike with gears

•Bag - a lockable, good-sized duffle bag with a top length zipper and nametag (Name Tag provided by G4G)

•Daypack - a light small and comfortable daypack (25-30 litres) with padded straps and a 2 ltr water bladder for ease of drinking while cycling

•Cycling Helmet (to be worn at all times during cycling)

•Bike Specific Water Bottles

•Cycling Gloves (padded or with gel)

•Sun Glasses

•2 Season Sleeping Bag ( Ground handler can provide with advance notice)



•One or more pairs of padded cycling shorts (recommended)

•Trousers or shorts suited for hotel/camping terrain



•Several pairs of light weight socks

•1 pair light weight shoes or Trainers for biking

•1 pair sandals or comfortable shoes to wear at night to suit hotel and camping terrain



•Several pairs regular underwear (You could also get wicking underwear available in sports stores)



•1 Light fleece or similar for the evening.

•Lightweight wind/rain protection jacket with a hood.

•Brimmed hat for sun

•Long sleeved clothing in the evening



•A selection of quick dry shirts (G4G wicking material T-shirts are available for Aed 100)



•2 sets travelling gear (trousers, shirt, shoes, socks, underwear) & change of clothes for hotel nights

•Gel Saddle covers are optional but can make a big difference to your comfort

•Swim shorts / swim suits

•Sunscreen min SPF 15+

•Lip Balm /chap stick with sunscreen/sun block

•Anti dazzle Sunglasses (and extra prescription lenses or contacts) Very Important!

•1 Headlamp or flash light, pocket sized

•Personal wash bag & toiletries (include wet wipes & a water free 'hand wash')



•Buff or Bandana

•Quick Dry Towel – medium size

•Camera with extra film, batteries & lenses

•Snacks – energy/granola bars, bars, nuts, toffees, etc

•Energy Drink Mixes: Isostar tablets or Pocari Sweat Powder

•Prescription medication

•Neck pouch and/or Money belt to carry money, permits and passport photocopies while traveling

•Travel documents, including copy of passport

•4 extra passport-sized pictures for visas and permits (just in case!)

•Cash currency in Dirhams

•Swiss Army Knife with scissors and tweezers

•Toilet Paper

•Mini first aid kit (main kit carried by group medic)

•Repair kit and spare tubes to fix your own punctures