Malaysian Consul General Hidayat Abdul Hamid flags off Haji Mohamed Assir on his onward journey to Africa at his country’s consulate general in Jeddah on Saturday. Two of the three Jeddah riders who accompanied Assir up to Yanbu look on. (AN photo)
They were 11 in number and they traversed 11 countries, starting from Kuala Lumpur to reach Jeddah on motorcycles.
Their mission was to perform Umrah and visit the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. They accomplished the mission in 45 days, traveling 17,800 km.
A four-wheel support vehicle with four people followed them throughout the journey described by the expedition leader Haji Mohamed Assir as “most satisfying and fulfilling.”
The expedition, flagged off in Kuala Lumpur on May 15 by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, was received in Jeddah by Malaysian Consul General Hidayat Abdul Hamid at his country’s consulate in Jeddah on June 28.
A beaming Hamid said the journey has made the Malaysians proud as it is the first ever expedition from Southeast Asia to Saudi Arabia on motorcycle to perform Umrah. He said the bikers were inspired by early Arabian travelers who traversed the Silk Road from the Middle East to Asia. Apart from performing Umrah, the purpose of the expedition was to promote friendship and foster goodwill with the people of the countries along the route.
Assir, the expedition leader, is a professional biker associated with Israq Adventure, a riders’ club in Malaysia. Assir has ridden through more than 70 countries. But most of his team members on this spiritual journey were new to long-haul motorbiking, including a Malaysian MP and a religious scholar.
To reach Saudi Arabia, the Malaysian bikers passed through Thailand, Laos, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan. Assir said his team made it a point to pray at local mosques along the way.
“At many places people cried when we told them that we were on way to perform Umrah,” he told Arab News. “I have no words to describe the feelings that we had after performing the Umrah. Every one of us was so relaxed and so spiritually charged that we did not want to think of any worldly thing.”
While other members of the expedition are flying back to Malaysia this week, Assir is continuing his journey toward Africa and Europe.
“I want to explore North Africa through the coastal route. I will be riding 10,000 km for one more month. From Africa I will enter Spain and ride through other countries in central Europe,” he said. While in Jeddah, Assir met with local riders and invited them to come to Malaysia and explore it. He said the locals were excited and curious to know more about his expeditions.
On Saturday, the three Jeddah bikers joined Assir when he started his onward journey from the Malaysian Consulate. They accompanied him up to Yanbu. He said five to six riders from Jeddah will visit Malaysia in the near future. “First they will ride with us within Malaysia. Once they are trained enough they may join us in our cross-country expeditions,” he said.