Dubai: Behind the wheel of a 2014 Toyota Land Cruiser with an Abu Dhabi quantity plate and basic Emirati oud music strumming within the background, a younger Emirati man has made his means by all of the 50 states of the US.
Ali AlGhfeli, a current graduate from the College of Washington with a level in Laptop Engineering and Synthetic Intelligence, documented his street journey on social media. A viral video, showcasing a compilation of Individuals from each state saying an Emirati phrase and sticking their state flag on AlGhfeli’s truck, has caught the eye of 1000’s of individuals, together with Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the US.
AlGhfeli shares a video alongside Al Otaiba, the place the ambassador expresses his help of the younger man’s distinctive travels. Within the video, the envoy says, “It was so superb to listen to all of the tales and all of the journeys and all the pieces you’ve accomplished. That is the easiest way you may presumably symbolize our nation. Assembly common Individuals, telling them who we’re and what we imagine in. You’ve managed to get to all 50 states and telling all people what our nation means to us.”
Starting of the journey
AlGhfeli was working in New York Metropolis in September of 2019 when he determined he needed to take a street journey that surpassed his earlier journey experiences.
“I had a vacation and I by no means prefer to waste my holidays. I really like travelling or studying one thing new. I needed to essentially discover North America however I needed it to be a novel street journey. I didn’t wish to simply cross distances in my street journey, I didn’t care what number of kilometres I drove, I needed to verify I be taught in regards to the historical past of an space, meet their individuals and share my tradition,” AlGhfeli says.
“I used to be in New York and I referred to as a good friend in Seattle telling him that I’m coming to go to, however I’ll be travelling with my very own Land Cruiser from house. He didn’t take me severely. When individuals noticed my automotive in Instances Sq., they thought it was Photoshopped. However I did certainly get my automotive shipped and that’s when my journey started.”
From New York to Maine to Miami, AlGhfeli started driving alongside the East coast first. He then crossed by the southern states and made his means up north to Seattle in Washington state, simply in time to proceed together with his closing semester at college. In December final yr, AlGhfeli accomplished his commencement, received behind the wheel of his beloved Land Cruiser, and resumed his journey, driving alongside the West Coast.
“Early 2020, I left my automotive within the West Coast and got here again to the UAE for what I hoped could be a brief go to. The pandemic occurred and I needed to put my journey on maintain. When flights reopened, I got here again round August and continued to go to the few states remaining,” he says.
He concluded his journey with a drive to Washington DC the place the memorable go to with the ambassador occurred. “It was my dream to satisfy [the Ambassador]. He’s such a robust persona and he’s so humble. We spent a very good hour discussing my travels,” AlGhfeli stated.
Distinctive adventures on the street
Travelling alone throughout 1000’s of kilometres comes with some attention-grabbing experiences. AlGhfeli stated his travels included an opportunity to carefully expertise completely different teams of individuals, integrating inside communities and sharing cultures.
The younger man from Al Ain discovered himself dwelling within the Amish communities of Pennsylvania. He additionally stayed at Native American reservations in Arizona. Within the South, the place AlGhfeli believes essentially the most beneficiant individuals reside, he spent quite a few nights in farms with strangers who opened their house to him. In Kentucky, an invite from a neighborhood nation singer led to an evening of studying about nation music and its tradition. On the porch of an aged couple’s house, AlGhfeli reminisces of staying up late nights studying and sharing with individuals who have by no means heard in regards to the UAE.
“I’ve gone to locations that nobody ever goes, I’ve met unforgettable individuals. Typically I inform individuals I’m on this state, they inform me ‘What are you even doing there?’. I prefer to discover and actually meet individuals and expertise issues,” he says.
“What struck lots of our conversations was my automotive. They see the Abu Dhabi numbers and so they’re fascinated. They take footage as I’m driving, they wave me down on the street to talk with me. The automotive was a terrific icebreaker for me,” he shares, explaining that many Individuals weren’t acquainted with the automotive model in any respect. “This leads me to sharing my tales and tradition. They’re very interested by us. They typically inform me that I’ve modified their views on the complete area.”
The viral video
The video that unfold AlGhfeli’s story was a compilation of clips the place individuals would place a sticker of various states onto the long-lasting Land Cruiser and say the phrase, ‘Marhaba Al Saa’. The section, which interprets to ‘Greetings on this blessed hour’, is an completely Emirati conventional phrase that made the video acquire lots of recognition on social media.
Behind the healthful video, AlGhfeli explains, “I knew that I used to be travelling 50 states, and I needed to make one easy video that encompasses that total journey. Each individual locations a flag sticker and says that phrase. What individuals didn’t see was that behind each individual in that video was an attention-grabbing story. I might solely ask somebody to place that sticker after I’ve had an expertise with them.”
Within the USA, nevertheless, AlGhfeli’s Land Cruiser gained recognition earlier than the viral video. The younger man shares quite a few events the place individuals would recognise his automobile in essentially the most distant places.
“I met a person in Washington who instructed me that he’s a good friend of a person I spent a day with within the mountains of Colorado months earlier! Just a few days in the past, my college adviser instructed me that she shared my posts along with her pals in Arizona, who surprisingly stated that that they had actually met me after I was there in 2019. After I drive, random individuals in caravans would cease me saying they’ve seen my automotive on social media. It was stunning how all of them remembered me,” AlGhfeli says.
With lots of of recent pals scattered throughout the US and iconic images of an previous Abu Dhabi-registered automotive parked earlier than famend American landmarks, AlGhfeli prepares to return to the UAE as his unforgettable journey involves a detailed.
He needs his viewers to be taught from his lengthy yr on the street. “Folks typically journey to take images and publish scenic moments. It’s best to journey to be taught and expertise new issues. Each individual you meet can open an entire door of information and perspective. All through this journey, I strived to make an affect wherever I went hoping to symbolize my nation in the very best gentle.”