There’s no doubt about it; Mohammed Al Balooshi has one of the coolest sporting jobs in the world. He’s also one of the United Arab Emirates’ top athletes. So to mark the 50th anniversary of the United Arab Emirates – or 50th UAE National Day – it was only fitting that the motocross champion was drafted in to take to the roads and deserts of his home country to showcase just how spectacular the nation truly is.
Mohammed spent a few days shooting in various locations across the seven emirates, and the end result is a must-watch. In fact, here it is below.
Mohammed Al Balooshi Race Through The Seven Emirates
So - how did this latest shoot come about, and just what was involved in the process? Mohammed tells us more.
This year we celebrate 50 years of the UAE – as an Emirati athlete, just what does #UAE50 mean to you?
Oh, it's a landmark! Before I was born – and this is what we came to know – is that the rulers had faith [in this unity]. Even when you think about it now, it is difficult to comprehend seven family members on one table without disagreements! But every year goes by and the bond gets stronger and we continue to become one. We live and die for this country. Every day that goes by in this “Etihad” [union] means a lot to every Emirati and every resident who is living here as well. And if you look at where we are going – not even compared to fifty years or ten years – but five years ago, for example, we are always progressing and moving forward.
You have spoken before about how you started in the sport quite late. Looking at the new talent coming through, are you hopeful about the new generation of Emirati riders?
Oh yes. Right now, we have a lot of good upcoming talent. Compare it to the past, and we didn't. You know, there were one or two guys, and that was it. But now, we have a pool of talent, and the future of motorsport – in particular, motocross or cross country rally – it's really bright for the UAE. People before me, and [my generation], we paved the path to strengthen the sporting scene. The championship, which exists in the UAE, is the toughest in the whole region. To inspire future generations, you need good success stories, so it's on my shoulders - along with those also currently racing - to be at our best. To uplift the future generations [of racing talent] coming up.
Apart from the UAE’s support for its sporting talent, what is your most favourite thing about your nation overall?
Our culture. For someone to understand the UAE, they need to understand the people first. You know, you can see how we have still kept our heritage and our traditions, while growing into a larger society that's open, and open to learning. Basically, we strive for the future, without forgetting our past. The UAE and its people do not forget its roots - we kept our culture and our heritage alive, and we protected it. We make sure that our children learn all of this, and retain their values.
We've built a unique bridge, so to speak, and this is my favourite thing.
In terms of sporting achievements in the UAE, which one has been your personal highlight?
I would say the Dubai International Baja in 2018 - it was Round One of the Baja World Championship, and I won that round, which led to me winning the World Cup that year. That was my dream, and my favourite one. It was definitely not an easy one - we have a lot of good talent.
You’ve also met a lot of notable Emiratis in your field. What has been your favourite encounter?
I met His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, after winning the Baja World Cup, the same year in 2018. Meeting him, and talking about the championship, the success we had, and getting inspired by him meant a lot. I remember that meeting gave me a massive boost and energy to continue, because he advised me not to stop and that I should continue. I was thinking of stopping and retiring at the time. It was really nice to receive that guidance from someone of such a high-level [of leadership].
Tell us a little bit about this video you have put together for #UAE50.
As a rider, we all get ideas on where we would love to ride - but most of the time, it involves places that can accommodate riding. Never in my dreams did I think I would be riding at the Etihad Museum [the iconic museum building is situated at the very place where the UAE was founded in 1971]. I rode there!
Having the opportunity to ride in these places are definitely some stories for the great-great grandchildren. You know, I also rode across the Spice Souq, on an abra, in Jebel Jais, at Fujairah Fort, Mangrove Beach… For me, this is the best way to show our love and appreciation to this country, which made it so safe for us to live in, and to pursue our dreams and goals.
I just want to thank everybody who made this happen - from government entities to the private sector, who allowed us, and gave us permission to ride. Everyone involved - from top management, to those helping on the ground. Without everyone involved, none of this would be possible. There were many people behind the scenes, so I would really like to thank everyone who helped, and allowed us to make this short video to celebrate 50 years of the UAE.