Ex­plorer Mark Evans re­counts his jour­ney across the Empty Quar­ter

Arab News - - News Saudi Arabia -

Ye­men, and ended it in Doha, Qatar, fol­low­ing the same trail as Thomas.

Marie Louise Sode­mann, chair­per­son of SASA — a non­profit and non­po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to build­ing re­la­tions be­tween in­di­vid­u­als and groups in Saudi Ara­bia and Scan­di­navia — opened the event with a few choice words.

“In a way, com­ing to Saudi Ara­bia, for me, can be com­pared to (cross­ing a desert),” she said. “The peo­ple I met all looked sim­i­lar, in a way. They wore the same clothes, and spoke a lan­guage I didn’t un­der­stand. But I slowly real­ized that all I was see­ing was my own neg­a­tive shadow. And that there are as many dif­fer­ent des­tinies as there are peo­ple. And that a beau­ti­ful soul can be found any­where.”

Over the course of their jour­ney, Evans ex­plained, his team faced chal­lenges in­clud­ing heavy sand­storms, ex­treme cli­mate changes (tem­per­a­tures in the high for­ties dur­ing the day and be­low zero at night) and tem­per­a­men­tal says EJ. “From the race to con­certs, games zones and an e-vil­lage, there will be some­thing for ev­ery­one and we are sure crowds are go­ing to love it.”

EJ has built a global fol­low­ing over the years, play­ing to au­di­ences of up to 20 mil­lion peo­ple. The ris­ing star, who be­gan pur­su­ing his pas­sion when he was just 15 years old, en­vi­sioned cre­at­ing a sort of cine­matic, “fast and fu­ri­ous” type feel among spec­ta­tors.

“It was fun play­ing at friends’ camels. Nev­er­the­less, they emerged tri­umphant, re­port­edly the first peo­ple to do so since Thomas and his team.

At the end of the pre­sen­ta­tion, “desert-sur­vival food,” which in­cluded tra­di­tional ja­reesh and camel meat, and more hum­ble op­tions such as tinned baked beans, a sta­ple in the desert ex­plorer’s diet even when Thomas set off on his ex­pe­di­tion, was avail­able for the au­di­ence to sam­ple.

Evans — who is also the founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Out­ward Bound Oman — grew up “cap­ti­vated” by the idea of ex­plo­ration and dis­cov­ery. He spent his child­hood, he said, “ex­plor­ing” the fields around his house with his dog, mak­ing his own en­ter­tain­ment.

He has trav­eled ex­ten­sively across the world and has been in­volved in out­door ed­u­ca­tion for over 39 years. Queen Elizabeth II hon­ored him in 2012 with an MBE (Mem­ber of the Most Ex­cel­lent Or­der of the Bri­tish Em­pire) for his work.

Evans and his team faced chal­lenges in­clud­ing heavy sand­storms, ex­treme cli­mate changes and tem­per­a­men­tal camels.

EJ, who re­mains a mys­tery to many, has be­come the ex­clu­sive DJ res­i­dent for global en­ter­tain­ment brand and race cham­pi­onship, For­mula E, the elec­tric street racing se­ries tak­ing on the world’s tracks.

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