UK Expedition to Saudi Arabia: Nefud 2024 “Striking the Sun’s Anvil”
In May 2024, an expedition from the UK will set off to cross the Nefud desert in Northern Saudi Arabia by pathfinding a new route across this remote and arid area. The Nefud 2024 team plans to be the first to demonstrate the use of alternative power as a viable option for expedition vehicles to transport the team, supplies, and equipment across this off-road, challenging terrain. “We are confident that we can practically utilize either fully electric or hybrid vehicles for the expedition and have designed the route to incorporate adequate charge points”, Team Leader, Dr. Alan Crofts told us. He added, “We are taking high-technology solar transducing mats on the expedition that will enable us to top up the vehicle batteries and charge our equipment”. The team is also looking at the possibility of using biofuel to power a diesel support vehicle that could also be used to provide a backup charge.
Why the Nefud desert? “I crossed the Rub-Al Khali a few years ago, and have a fascination with the desert areas in the Gulf region”, says Alan. “I found evidence that part of the Nefud used to be termed, “The Sun’s Anvil”, and at that, it was thought by the local peoples to be uncrossable in the daytime. It is a region of sandstorms and dust devils with beautiful sand plains and dune systems - a place that I am drawn to. Our respect for the desert and its inhabitants has led us to adopt the strategy to minimize our carbon footprint by using alternatively powered vehicles”. “We are very interested in forming cultural ties with local people and associations in the Nefud area of northern Saudi Arabia”, he added.
The team consists of six individuals who are all experienced in expedition work. One of the team is a renowned filmmaker and will be visually recording the expedition and vehicle performance for PR purposes. They are currently working with the British Embassy in Riyadh to secure an endorsement from a member of the Saudi Royal Family. They are also forming ties with the advanced power group at Princess Nourah University in Riyadh and the Saudi Media and Research Group (SMRG). Alan told us, “We are developing considerable interest from the media in the UK, Europe, and in the Gulf region and are forming alliances with key Saudi institutions and the UK/KSA trade association”. “As new sponsors come on board we will be issuing press releases to outlets across the Middle East. We are also very grateful to our friends at YallaMotor.com for supporting the expedition”.
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