” I spend most of my free time enjoying camping in the desert, especially during winter time. I feel that I need to get out of the town. Get some fresh air, touch and play the sand. I have sheep, chickens, birds and some rabbits in the camp.”
With plenty of scenic deserts and sand dunes, especially in the capital Abu Dhabi, home to the world’s tallest and largest sand dunes towering at hundreds of meters, the United Arab Emirates’ natural landscape harmoniously blends with people seeking ways to relax and reflect.
Khalifa Al Reyami, vice chairman of Al Reyami Group, one of the biggest in the country with 15 companies under its wing, is among those who find comfort in spending time in the desert much like the Bedouin ancestors of the UAE who harnessed the power of the desert to bring clarity to one’s mind.
The Al Reyami Group began as a humble furniture store in 1994 with just five employees. Al Reyami says his father, founder and chairman, Rashid Mubarak Saif Al Reyami, a retired military official, eventually grew his business to become one of the biggest in the furniture and interiors industry, giving rise to more than 20 other subsidiaries in the steel, shipping & logistics, technologies, publishing & printing, among many other sectors.
At its peak, Al Reyami Group had over 8,000 employees with annual gross income of over AED600 million, records showed.
The Al Reyamis treat their employees like family and many of them have been there since inception.
The younger Al Reyami who now runs the family business says the desert brings him unmatched peace and happiness. He spends most of his free time camping in the desert with only the stars, the moon and his pets by his side.
“I spend most of my free time enjoying camping in the desert, especially during winter time,” Al Reyami shared to Air Cargo Update in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Dubai. “I feel that I need to get out of the town. Get some fresh air, touch and play the sand. I have sheep, chickens, birds and some rabbits in the camp.”
During summer, Al Reyami says he spends time at the gym to stay healthy and fit.
Al Reyami is also into off-road driving, one of the most exciting things you can experience in the Middle East with rugged terrain and towering sand dunes that collapse at every turn, giving you that indescribable adrenaline-rush. The businessman even had a special car built in the United States for his hobby.
“I have my off-road car built in America. You cannot drive it on the road. It’s a special car,” he said.
With the welfare of his five daughters on top of his priority, Al Reyami said he ditched the fast cars a long time ago in favor of off-road driving which is safer.
“I love fast cars but I have five daughters and I have to take care of them,” said Al Reyami, a former aircraft mechanic at the UAE Air Force before deciding to fully run their family business.
Nowadays, Al Reyami says he drives Nissan Patrol most of the time because it’s economical, family-friendly, spacious and flexible enough to be driven on the road or off-road.