WHEN SOMEONE SAYS IT'S IMPOSSIBLE I ALREADY FEEL THAT I CAN DO

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His latest journey will see him cover 150km between the two mosques, from midnight on Thursday to midnight on Friday.

A Dubai-based desert explorer will walk, non-stop - while fasting - between the Shaikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Jumeirah Mosque in Dubai, to raise awareness about the less fortunate and the work of the Al Jalila Foundation.

The explorer, Italian national Max Calderan, is no stranger to seemingly impossible feats of physical endurance. In March, for instance, he set out on foot to cover 340km of the Tropic of Cancer, between the Saudi and Omani borders in the UAE.

His latest journey will see him cover 150km between the two mosques, from midnight on Thursday to midnight on Friday - including the daylight hours in which he'll be abstaining from food and water.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Calderan - who has also run 250km across the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt while fasting - said he isn't particularly concerned about the physical aspects of the Dubai-Abu Dhabi trek. "In my style, I will try to do it in less than 24 hours," he said. "It's no problem for me. I'm used to it.

"Compared to other trips, this is very easy. I'll be walking close to the main road the entire time," he added. "This is more a personal journey."

When asked what is motivating him to undertake such an arduous trip, Calderan noted that he wants people to think about the underprivileged. "People who say they can't fast need to understand that there are people who can't eat or drink, or are in the hospital," he said.

"I also want to do this to raise awareness on the Al Jalila Foundation and the children in Al Zahra Hospital. "There are children that are not so lucky," he added. "We need to give them support."

Additionally, to show their support for Calderan's efforts and the Al Jalila Foundation, Italian water company Monviso has pledged to to collect and recycle empty bottles, and donate the net return from the sale of these bottles to the Al Jalila Foundation.

Additionally, Calderan said he hoped that his effort will encourage UAE residents - Muslims and non-Muslims alike - to use Ramadan as a period to reflect. "Fasting is a good exercise to understand the deprivation of something that we always have," he said. "When something is missing, like food or water, we really understand its importance.

"During Ramadan we can consider helping someone who is living their life in deprivation to healthcare, rights, water," he said. "Our support can change their lives in a better way, God willing." - bernd@khaleejtimes.com

Bernd Debusmann Jr. 

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Dubai explorer begins 150 km journey for charity

DUBAI // The drive from Abu Dhabi to Dubai can seem a daunting task for some, so you can just imagine what they would make of the idea of making the 150-kilometre journey on foot. Oh, and doing it while fasting.

But for Italian Max Calderan, who calls himself “the son of the desert", it is an opportunity not to be missed – even in the midday sun and temperatures of 45°C and higher.

He began the 24-hour-plus journey on Thursday night, running along on the hard shoulder of the country’s busiest road, to raise money for the Al Jalila Foundation, a children’s charity that carries out medical education and research.

The starting point was at Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, after iftar, and the destination is midnight at Dubai’s Jumeirah mosque on Friday night.

Having gone days without food or sleep while crossing some of the most barren desert terrains on Earth, Calderan was confident this trip would be one of his easiest feats. In fact, not having to face the wilderness made for a change.

“There’s no question with this as to whether I will survive or not," said Calderan, who is being tailed by a support vehicle.

“We thought to go to the ­desert but decided mosque to mosque would be better ­because it’s Ramadan."

The Italian converted to Islam 12 years ago. “Ramadan is a big opportunity to understand how lucky we are," he said.

“We never think about what’s important for other people ­until we arrive at the stage of deprivation.

“So once we start to be in a state of deprivation, at least without food or water, it’s the only period where we can ­understand what it means for people like those escaping ­Syria. We have almost one month to think about it."

The Al Jalila Foundation is a cause close to his heart.

“Linking with children is the best because they are the future," said the father of three.

“They are the small tree growing up and we need to feed these trees with the best water so they grow up in the best way."

Off-roading expert Albert Pereira is leading the support team. Having traversed the Tropic of Cancer on Calderan’s recent desert adventure, he said conditions for this journey were very different.

“It’s just the traffic we are concerned about," he said.

“We have to make sure he’s right off the road."

Melanie Swan

mswan@thenational.ae

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