The idea to cross the Arabian Peninsula on foot towards Doha came to Saudi chief Abdullah al-Salami earlier this year while watching a TV program in which a senior Qatari official promised an “exceptional” experience during the upcoming World Cup Football Tournament.

The 33-year-old recalls excitedly saying to himself at the time, “I will go to Doha no matter what, even if I have to walk.”

This was the start of a daring adventure that some of Al-Salami’s relatives called “crazy” based on a solo journey that lasted two months, on a 1600 km road from his hometown of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast to the Qatari capital.

Al-Salami told AFP that the documented trip of thousands of his Snapchat followers aims to highlight the region’s enthusiasm for the Middle East’s first-ever FIFA World Cup, which Saudi officials see as a milestone “for all Arabs. “.

“We want to support the World Cup,” Al-Salami said as he took shelter from the sun by bushes on the side of a road in the city of Al-Khasra, 340 kilometers southwest of Riyadh.

“I consider myself a Qatari who is very interested in this World Cup and its success,” added a young man wearing a hat and backpack with the flags of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

– High heat and scorpion –

Al-Salami has extensive experience hiking in Canada and Australia, where he has lived, but these hikes seem easy compared to the difficulty of crossing the Arabian Peninsula.

He usually leaves at dawn and walks until ten or eleven-thirty in the morning, but then the intense heat forces him to rest for several hours before returning in the afternoon and continuing his walk until sunset.

From time to time he walks in the evenings to reach his goal of 35 km per day.

To keep his workload light, Al-Salami subsists on food he can buy at gas stations, often chicken and rice, while he showers and does his laundry at mosques.

His social media posts detail life on the road, from everyday life to the obstacles he faces, including finding a place to sleep at night or even seeing a scorpion near his tent.

He also records his conversations with Saudis he meets along the way, many of whom offer snacks and juices to help him continue his journey.

He said: “When I meet people and hear these beautiful words, we will follow you on your account and support you, this encourages me to continue the trip.

He explains that he was rewarded by seeing the varied scenery of the kingdom, something he had not fully appreciated before.

He continued: “The route from Jeddah to Doha changes every 100 km. The first 100 km means sand dunes, then mountains, then wastelands, then farms,” adding, “I will walk through the whole area in one country in two hours.” months. It’s a wonderful thing.”

– light sport –

Al-Salami hopes that by sharing his hiking experience, he can inspire other Saudis to consider traveling around their country.

“I want to show people that hiking is a great sport, even if the weather here in Saudi Arabia is rough and even if the terrain is difficult. We can do it,” he said.

He continued, “It’s a simple sport, you just have to carry a bag and some simple and serious stuff.”

If all goes according to plan, Al-Salami will arrive in Doha just in time to attend Saudi Arabia’s first match against Argentina on November 22, knowing that Argentina is his favorite team along with the Saudi national team.

Four days later, he will attend Saudi Arabia’s match against Poland. And he has high hopes for the Saudi Arabian team, which has reached the finals of the World Cup six times, with only one play-off during its first appearance in 1994.

Al-Salami said: “We have good players this year. The great French coach Herve Renard is coaching and we expect and hope that this year the team will show exceptional results.”