What’s it like to drive over over 1700 kilometers in a fleet of all-electric vehicles across the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman? It’s exhilarating. Fascinating. A bit arduous. Empowering. Above all, it’s an opportunity to celebrate the power and promise of all-electric transportation and to spread its word. Based on the success of its 2018 excursion, the 2019 Global EVRT (Electric Vehicle Road Trip) will offer a small and select group of all-electric aficionados a Middle East tour that will become one of life’s greatest memories.
Global EVRT has the mission to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles for the creation of smart and sustainable societies. Earlier this year, I joined in with the 2018 Global EVRT in Muscat, Oman and traveled with the fleet through to Dubai. [In the picture above, I’m standing stage right of the sapphire blue Chevy Bolt, as I was driving on that leg.] What an opportunity it was to learn everything I wanted to know about EVs!
Global EVRT’s conferences give a space for the EV industry to learn and share, their road trips engage the public with new technology while demonstrating to the world all-electric transportation capability, and their showcasing events allow industry to interact directly with consumers. I experienced all of these on my own Global EVRT to the Middle East.
Several EVs banded together to form the 2018 Global EVRT Middle East fleet. In one Tesla Model S, Charlie Fraser demonstrated how the giant, 17-inch tablet/ touchscreen/ brain communicates the core functions of the car through taps, swipes, and pinches. One evening, while I sat in the back of a Model S P100D, Ludicrous Mode was engaged — Zowie! I was pinned to my seat as if the Millennium Falcon had leapt into hyperspace. Remarkable. I loved the acceleration and speed as I drove a 2018 Chevy Bolt across city streets (Chevrolet has a major presence in Dubai) and then up the mountain passes of Jebel Jais — at over 6,000 feet, the highest point in the Emirates. Our new friends who supported the fleet at Green Parking were driving a handsome BMW i3. To round out our fleet, there was a fun Tesla Model X, which was a big hit with a band of roving camels as we maneuvered on a back road.
But the Global EVRT was about much more than the electric transportation, I must admit. The travel exposure was amazing for me. In the Koran, Allah asks, “The heaven and earth and all in between, thinkest thou that I made them in jest?” I’ll always remember the enclaves of whitewashed low-rise buildings set against the long sand dunes and desert. Balconies and parapets carved into stone filigree. Arched white doorways and windows. The ornate, curved mosques dotting every village center and city. Historical fortresses and colorful palaces surrounded by hazy desert majesty. The deep gold warmth of the January sun that enveloped and relaxed us.
As we drove, I mused on the networks of thick and stocky cement bridges that support miles of pipes. Oil? Water? Hmm… discovery was everywhere.
5-Star Hotels on the Global EVRT
Art-deco influences, high walls of marble, and grand high lobbies of 5-star hotels — we Road Trippers experienced the most decadent 5-star hotels on the Global EVRT…
I met up with the Global EVRT cohort at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Muscat, Oman. I was immediately refreshed from my long journey from the US with lunch looking out from the poolside patio, over hillsides, and down to the ocean.
On another day, I lounged on the outside patio of the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Sohar, Oman, swimming laps afterward in their long, luxurious pool while the cars charged.
After crossing the Oman border at 4 checkpoints (hint: make sure to keep all your over-the-counter meds in their original containers), we Road Trippers traveled into the UAE to Fujairah’s Intercontinental Hotel.
Located right on a sparkling blue beach. Reflecting pools at night. A long table of Road Trippers at an all-inclusive dinner — laughing, networking, leaning back in satisfaction. Absolutely divine.
The Global EVRT Lagniappe: Meeting People
A common desire for a sustainable world brought together a diverse, warm, and welcoming group of people to the Global EVRT. I chatted variously with Road Trippers from Dubai, Cape Town, Detroit, South Carolina, and Scotland, among other locations. We talked long and easily about our experiences and vision for a peaceful, fossil fuel-free society.
Sophie Sandham, one of the 2018 Global EVRT coordinators, explained that, “within 2 months, we’ve established a charging network.” And wherever our fleet of EVs traveled, people stopped what they were doing to stare with curiosity at the EV fleet, he confirmed. “That’s a Tesla, right?” a young local man asked as he peered around the corner of a convenience store. Families gathered to vacation in several small campgrounds in the arid mountains, cooking feasts that were arranged on colorful brocade floor cloths. Women with meticulously applied makeup and head scarves. Men wore a huge variety of different manners of dress.
Walid Albasheer from the Nama Group told me that that Global EVRT was “a historic moment” for the region. “There’s very good support by senior officials in the government” for the creation of the Middle East EV charging network. Local dignitaries attended each EV charging station opening, and their smiles signified the start of a new era in Middle East transportation.
In conversations at different events, like our Eco Haus visit to the German University in Oman (part one and part two), we talked about ways that all-electric transportation was only a beginning point to a sustainable world. For example, we talked to the staff the Eco Haus about how important it is for environmentally efficient buildings to be able to take the solar electricity they produce to charge EVs.
The 2018 Global EVRT Middle East finished with a grand finale in Dubai’s Sustainable City. Designed like many walkable, mixed-used neighborhoods newly emerging around the world, the Sustainable City, with its modern application of social, economic, and environmental sustainability in the built environment, was a fitting place to celebrate our accomplishments. With speakers and kiosks, EVs on display and the public mingling around us, the Sustainable City captured alongside the Global EVRT a working model of what the future could look like — innovative design, stakeholder engagement, and future monitoring to sustain itself. Our cohort beamed, proud of our Road Tripper accomplishments.
Unveiling the 2019 Global EVRT Middle East Excursion
The Global EVRT is returning to the Middle East in January 2019, and now you can join the excursion for either 4 or 8 days. If you’re interested in electric vehicle technology, adventure, and travel, you should definitely consider it.
The Electric Vehicle Road Trip is coming back to the Middle East with a competitive twist and you can get involved! 😎⚡️
Join us for an 8-day road trip (17-24 Jan 2019) packed with fun, adventure, education and impact! #EVRThttps://t.co/HGQQ0aC9km
— Generation.e (@generationehq) September 3, 2018
Global EVRT creates a platform for the latest information in the electric vehicle industry to be shared through innovative e-Mobility conferences, interactive showcasing events, and exciting long-distance EVRTs like the one I joined. This year’s 2019 Global EVRT Middle East will launch at the World Future Energy Summit (WFES) in Abu Dhabi on Thursday, January 17th, 2019. Afterward, the Global EVRT teams and their vehicles will drive through major cities such as Muscat, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, and Khasab. The convoy will return to the UAE to reach the finish line in Dubai on Thursday, January 24th, where they’ll be met by the EV Showcasing Day and Grand Finale.
The fleet of electric vehicles will be taking advantage of the charging stations built during last year’s Global EVRT Middle East in partnership with GreenParking and IHG. There have also been many new charging stations added to the network since our 2018 visit.
What’s new for 2019? As I understand it, Road Trippers and their vehicles will have the opportunity to compete against one another with criteria of time and battery use energy efficiency as they travel across the UAE and Oman. The itinerary will include many more remote places to take advantage of the activities and sights that the UAE and Oman has to offer. It’s kind of remarkable that the 2019 Global EVRT Middle East will head a bit off the beaten track, considering an all-electric fleet must have vehicle charging planned out meticulously. The sponsors hope to demonstrate that the cars can be reliable without range anxiety. New activities that have been recently confirmed include a Wild Swimming Race to Snoopy Island and braving the world’s longest Zip Line in Jebel Jais.
Ben Pullen, Managing Director at Global EVRT, says,
“The Global EVRT Middle East is growing from strength to strength each year that we run it. And that is really a reflection of the progress being made in the region to transition to electric vehicles and smarter mobility. It’s an exciting time in the automotive industry, due to so many new electric vehicles being launched worldwide. Many of those products are arriving here in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) during 2019. Chevrolet have already been delivering their new Chevrolet Bolt EV to the first round of customers. We look forward to putting more of the latest models to the test during the EVRT Middle East 2019 and getting many more people behind the steering wheel.”
The first round of limited tickets for the 2019 Global EVRT Middle Least are available for the full journey or for 2 individual stages. Participants may join for Abu Dhabi to Muscat leg (January 17th – 20th) or the Muscat to Dubai leg (January 20th – 24th).
Featured image credit: Global EVRT