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Galal Zekri reveals the story behind his ambitious 7,000km solo cycle ride around Egypt
After completing a 100km ride on a desert road to Ismaeleya in Cairo, I decided I wanted to push myself even further to see what I could achieve. So far, I’ve embarked on three major trips; when I was 17, I cycled 130km to Sokhna. When I was 18, I cycled from Cairo to Nuweibaa – a 400km trip, and at 19, I cycled around the Western Desert in Egypt. I started to contemplate the idea of cycling solo for five months around Egypt, a distance of around 7,000km; I yearned to fulfill my dream of exploring the outstanding beauty of Egypt, and I’m thankful that this has become a reality.
I didn’t give much thought to communication on previous trips and I stayed offline for most of the time. On this trip, however, I felt I needed more of a professional approach that (a) would keep me safe and (b) would allow me to stay in regular contact with family and friends and my rescue team.
I did some research before setting off and discovered that Thuraya’s satellite coverage is the best in the Middle East. Since Alkan CIT is Thuraya’s authorized Service Partner in Egypt, I approached them and told them about my expedition. I was very surprised when they replied to my message and were kind enough to become my main sponsor of the trip. They also supplied me with the Thuraya XT and Thuraya IP. It turned out that it was more convenient for me to go with Thuraya over a GSM operator so I could stay connected all of the time – this was of the utmost importance as I was cycling off the beaten track. Luckily, Thuraya's products are made from tough stuff and are designed for harsh environments. These particular products are rugged and waterproof – and they needed to be given my chosen route. The Thuraya XT satellite phone is so easy to use, all I had to do was make sure I was pointing the antenna towards the sky. I was also given a SatSleeve which allowed me to use my iPhone on Thuraya’s satellite network. This made my journey safer as I could communicate regularly with my rescue team. I was thrilled to be introduced to this outstanding Thuraya invention.
I did face some challenges on my journey but thankfully these weren't categorized as a threat, so it was more of a case of updating my emergency team on the situation and updating my status on social media.
As for the next step, we are trying to get a grant from an international film festival so we can produce a movie of my experience. I’m also busy telling my story on social media and I hope to inspire others to go out and fulfill their dreams. I’d love to produce a documentary about my journey and maybe I’ll write a book about the challenges I encountered and the amazing places I visited.