This project is about 5 Cyclists from 5 different countries who took upon the challenge of cycling all over the 7 Emirates of UAE in less than 24 hours.
I must mention that this project is one of my favorite projects. Each memory from the project makes me feel emotional. From the documentary shoot to the interview shoot, editing, soundtracks and even the movie premiere and screening.
Roisin Thomas (Female, Irish), woke up on a Monday morning and thought about taking on a difficult cycling challenge. “I was driving from Abu Dhabi to Dubai and at that time of my life I was doing a lot of riding but the schedule was very routine like, very monotonous and I was bored of it so I thought why not cycle from Abu Dhabi to Dubai“. She told Raslan this crazy idea and 3 other guys who are also cyclists and they all decided to take the challenge further and instead of cycling from Abu Dhabi to Dubai, they cycled through the whole country in less than 24 hours.
I was the only chosen photographer for the whole challenge and I covered the whole event as they happened from the preparation to training sections and setup. I was also with them throughout the whole challenge (although I was shooting from the back of a support car while they were cycling) where I witnessed a lot of emotional and breathtaking moments. 5 Cyclists including a female, cycling in the blistering 50°C heat temperature of UAE, the windy desert, with pain, mental strength and test of endurance for 467km in less than 24 hours.
Initially, I intended to document the challenge in photos only but before we started I thought I should take along a couple of Sony Action Cam Cameras and that’s where the whole idea of the documentary film came from, just that little moment of “why not?”. I got tons of footages from the Action Cams and few from the Canon 5diii I was using for photos and while reviewing the footages after the challenge I felt I could make something out of them. Fortunately, after a couple of months, My best friend (Ibrahim) told me about a film festival, Ras Al Khaimah Fine Arts Festival (RAKFAF), then I was even more inspired to turn these footages into a documentary film.
With the support of Al Qasimi Foundation and Besport, I was able to conduct a proper interview with the Cyclists in other to compliment the live footages I got from the challenge. The 7 Emirates in 24 Challenge was premiered at the RAKFAF on the 17th of February 2017 and was also screened later in the year at the Alserkal Avenue – Cinema Akil with the help of my colleague and my friend Menelaos Mazarakis.
Initially, when I was told about the challenge I thought they were joking, I thought they were crazy, I thought they were not going to do it, boy was I wrong; I learned a lot from the project from inception to completion.
Setting a goal, working towards it and achieving it (as the cyclist did).
Even though it was extraordinarily hot, windy, stressful and painful, the cyclists never gave up; they cycled from 5:00 am to 2:00 am the next morning.
Finally, not listening to Naysayers – A lot of people said they should not do it, they will not complete it, these and that but the cyclists took the risk and successfully achieved something phenomenal that has never happened in the country. I’m sure this great feat will always be in their heart as well as mine.
Starring: Roisin Thomas, Raslan Abbadi, Noel Stander, Buti Al Nuaimi, Edmar Magbitang
Shot and Directed by Oluwaseyi Usman
Assistant Director: Ibrahim Adefila
Project Supervisor: Femi Familoye
Editor: Oluwaseyi Usman
Interview Make up: Corrie Elle
Animation: Johannes Steidele
Sound Track: ASA – Moving On