Although his epic journeys have so often involved snow, ice, and water, for his latest challenge Maxime Chaya swapped the cold and damp for dry desert heat. The Lebanese adventurer teamed up with Steve Holyoak, an endurance athlete from the UK, to become the first men ever to cross the vast and hyper-arid Rub’ Al Khali (Empty Quarter) by bicycle.
Cyclists track their way across a vast expanse of desert with the help of Thuraya satphones.
For their three-week BRAK (Biking Rub’ Al Khali) expedition in November – December 2016, the pair went equipped with two XT-LITE satellite phones provided by Thuraya. These satphones were essential items of kit. Without them, it would have been impossible for Maxime and Steve to stay in touch with their support team from this beautiful but remote and dangerous desert. The BRAK route began in the UAE at Abu Dhabi and took them across the border into Oman, and then southwest to the finish at Salalah – a distance of 1,453km. Cycling up to 100km per day and camping each night among the sand dunes, they used their Thuraya satphones to update their support team and sponsors at every opportunity.
“The Thuraya phones are very light and very reliable, with amazing voice quality,” said Maxime. “I was often interviewed from the middle of the desert by MTV Lebanon, our media sponsors, and they said the voice quality was as good as they had ever heard over a phone, let alone a satellite phone. So much that I enjoyed listening to the evening news via satellite while waiting for my time to come on air, live.”