The UAE man who walked across all 7 emirates

30-year-old Emirati Jalal Bin Thaneya covered 810 kilometres in 14 days, raising awareness for people with special needs.

Meryl D'Souza January 12, 2017

In a bid to run your way to fitness this year, you covered over 15,000 steps last night. Congratulations! go on, give yourself a pat on the back because not only did you beat your expectations, but you even managed to close those rings on you Apple Watch. We’re sure the adrenaline rush is addicting but try not to get too smug. 

Meet Jalal Bin Thaneya, the 30-year-old Emirati who ran, jumped, walked and at times limped across all seven of the United Arab Emirates in just 14 days, all for the noble cause of raising awareness for people with special needs.

The adventurer, photographer and campaigner initially aimed to complete his journey in seven days. Doing so would have made him eligible for a spot in the record books. Unfortunately for Bin Thaneya a combination of the heat, faulty support vehicles, scarce food, and unpaved roads hindered his Guinness World Record attempt. 

Even so, Bin Thaneya covered roughly 810 kilometres in 14 days. Amazingly, this is not the first time the quality and strategy officer at Dubai Ports World has walked through all seven emirates. 10 years ago, in his 20s, Bin Thaneya made the trek in 18 days to raise awareness for the Dubai Autism Centre.

That’s not all. Since 2008, Bin Thaneya has undertaken numerous charity treks all across the region, the most notable of which was his 2,000km walk from Ruwais, Abu Dhabi to the city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia for the Dubai Special Needs Centre.

Here’s the best thing about him though, Bin Thaneya doesn’t know anyone with special needs. He just does it. As he told Sport360: “I have no one who has special needs in my family. I don’t know or have been in contact with anyone who has special needs. In 2006, there was not a lot of awareness for individuals with special needs. After I finished my first journey, there was a ripple-effect and a lot of activities started springing up in order to raise awareness.”

Bin Thaneya's brutal voyage through the UAE started in Ghweifat, a town in Abu Dhabi that is 300km away from the city. The trip through Abu Dhabi itself took eight days.

He then spent another four days going through Sharjah, Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, before going through the Fujairah mountains and the village of Masafi, Ras Al Khaimah. He completed his journey at around 8:30 pm on January 2.

Suddenly our New Year efforts to get fit on the treadmill seem a little paltry. Who's up for joining Bin Thaneya on his next journey?