Motorbike riding is a passion shared by many people across the globe, but for Omani adventure biker Maher Al Barwani, riding is more than a passion, it is a lifestyle. The biker has crossed entire continents on his bike, with even bigger plans to come.
Starting with a childhood passion for bikes and cars, things started to get serious for Maher in 2009 when he began to take his rides past Oman’s borders into neighbouring GCC countries and Jordan.
“I have always been inspired by the intrepid lifestyle of our ancestors,” said the 35-year-old biker. “For centuries our ancestors would cross vast deserts and even seas to trade, exchanging knowledge and exploring new cultures. Today, rather than using traditional transport like camels or donkeys, I use the modern equivalent, a motorbike.”
In 2013 Maher embarked on a ride all the way from Oman to Germany, a one-month long journey taking him from Iran to Turkey then on the ferry to Greece, from Greece to Italy, then westward to France and finally to Germany.
But that wasn’t enough. The following year Maher set out on a three month ride from Oman to the UK. The ride took him across the Middle East, North Africa and Europe and in doing so, he became the first Omani to ride solo across three continents. From Oman he travelled through the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. The biker bypassed Libya by plane before continuing his journey from Tunisia then across to France and the UK before setting off home via Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary among others.
2015 was another recording breaking year, this time Maher became the first person from the Arab world to ride solo westwards from Oman across the Middle East and North Africa to reach Morocco.
Maher is largely self-sufficient on his rides. As a trained mechanic, he is able to repair his bike when the inevitable brake-downs occur on the road. As for financing his trips, Maher is mostly self-funded.
“I ride solo and carry all of my possessions on my bike with me,” he continued. “When it comes to sleeping, I set up my tent in a safe place and camp out for the night.”
According to Maher, despite setting out from Oman solo, he rarely feels lonely. “Most of the time I am joined at different points of my journey by friends or riders from different countries. Sometimes local riders host me in their homes and I have the special opportunity to experience their culture and hospitality.”
2017 marks his biggest adventure yet, an epic six-month ride planned for the first half of the year. The ride will take him on a tour of Africa, spanning over 46,000km.
“I’m preparing myself for the biggest journey of my life. I will travel from Oman, across the UAE and Saudi Arabia and then into Africa where I will travel all the way down to South Africa, including Mt Kilimanjaro and the islands of Zanzibar and Madagascar. I will then ride up the west coast of Africa, across the North of Africa and back across the Middle East to Oman.”
“It is a great honour to represent Oman around the globe, spreading awareness of who we are, our history and our peaceful way of life. I am very thankful for the encouragement and support of the people of my country.”
When it comes to advice for budding adventurers, “If you have a dream, make a plan and just do it,” says Maher. “You are capable of anything you put your mind to so depend on yourself and go for it.”
Facebook @maher albarwani