ABU DHABI // High-ranking officials have taken to their bikes in support of The National’s #cycletoworkuae campaign.
Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon, chairman of the Department of Transport, Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, chairman of Health Authority Abu Dhabi and director general of Abu Dhabi Education Council, and Ali Al Dhaheri, managing director of Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, all took to two wheels to show their passion for biking.
The second annual #cycletoworkuae day takes place on Tuesday. Commuters are encouraged to use pedal power to get to and from work.
Sheikh Sultan said the event carried the important message that people should make exercise part of a daily routine.
“It’s a great initiative to promote a healthy and active lifestyle,” said Sheikh Sultan. “There’s a heavy reliance on using cars, as the residents are capable of purchasing cars and the infrastructure makes driving the most attractive option of transportation, however we want to improve public transportation and biking.”
The UAE’s hot summers make cycling more difficult at some times of the year, said Sheikh Sultan.
“Yes, we do have three or four months where the weather does not help, however, there’s nothing stopping us from using other forms of transportation — weather permitting,” he said.
Dr Al Khaili, a keen cyclist, said that the exercise is a passion for him.
“Exercise, in the UAE, has been given the importance it deserves, as a young nation, our lives have changed significantly, we went from a life full of physical activity to one of sedentary existence after our modernisation,” he said.
He said as people transitioned from lifestyles where they exercised daily to office jobs, they abandoned the physical activity that was inherent in their lifestyles.
He said the genetic predisposition to Type 2 diabetes in Arab people is further exacerbated by their sedentary lifestyles.
Biking, he said, is a great way to weave that exercise back into our lives.
“There was no doubt a change in the pace of life, and in that exercise was lost,” he said, “However, we hope that people encourage themselves now to get more involved to in exercise.”
Statistics have shown that 20 per cent of the adult population in the UAE engage in the daily recommended 30 minutes of exercise and only 40 per cent of young people do the 60 minutes of physical activity that is considered healthy.
Dr Al Khaili said he believed cycling had advantages over other kinds of exercise.
“Biking is immensely enjoyable because it doesn’t focus on just the exercise aspect but also places a heavy emphasis on social connections,” he said. “There is no hierarchy in biking and we are all cyclists.”
Cycling also helped people wind down and relax, said Dr Al Khaili.
“Today with the stress of work and the challenges of modern life, we are constantly trying to make the best use of our time and we are turning to the fastest mode of transportation at the cost of neglecting our bodies.”
He added that the more people that take up cycling, the more it would become acceptable.
“Maybe we are a community that is at first surprised of new ideas, but I think at the same time we are very welcome to adapt beneficial changes,” he said.
“An idea that was weird or new a few years ago has now become adopted and I think cycling can become that.”
“To that person who is thinking of cycling but is unsure, yes the first time you might feel hesitant, maybe embarrassed at first, but once you try I think it not only becomes addictive but a passion,” he said.
Source: uae news