Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

An avid Saudi Arabian football fan walked across the desert for 55 days to reach Qatar to inspire his national team, which is taking part in the FIFA World Cup 2022 starting later this month.

The football crazy fan has been identified as Abdullah Al Salmi. He combined his twin passions hiking and football by planning his most ambitious trek. He walked 1,600 km across the Arabian Desert from his hometown of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to Qatar’s capital Doha.

After reaching the Doha Corniche, Salmi was greeted by several supporters from across Qatar. Football buffs congratulated him on his incredible feat and posed for photographs with him under the Saudi flag.

“I always wanted to attend a World Cup. I wished to mark the occasion by walking across the Arabian Peninsula in a show of brotherhood and unity between two neighbouring countries,” Salmi told the Qatar2022 website.

Salmi first developed an interest for hiking while studying in Canada. He set off his hiking journey from Jeddah on September 9 to walk across Saudi Arabia’s entire landmass.

Notably, the Qatar-Saudi land border at Abu Samra is about 100 km from Doha. Qatari authorities have refurbished the immigration and customs facilities as thousands of Saudi fans are expected to drive in to watch matches.