“You’re Sheikh Mohammed, aren’t you?”
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s good deeds often fly under the radar – remember how he secretly stepped in to help a tiny village in England save its chapel?
Now, Dubai teacher Kayleigh Hutchison has recounted how the vice president of the UAE and ruler of Dubai heroically came to her rescue after a leisurely bike ride in the desert went seriously wrong.
Hutchison said the incredible encounter occurred on a Tuesday last November, when she and her friends Linda and Brenda decided to head to Al Qudra for a 50km cycle.
They hired bikes, helmets, and lights, and set off with nothing but a backpack containing a bottle of water and an iPhone with 20 per cent battery.
The first part of the journey was problem-free, and the girls managed to reach the 10km sign by sunset. But soon after, Hutchison veered off track and fell into the sand. Her bike chain came off and became twisted.
“At this point I started to panic,” Hutchison said.
“It was dark, we were 10k into the desert, the bike rental store was not answering the phone, and to top it all off, I was the only one with a phone, which was about to run out of battery. I fought back the tears thinking of the 6-mile walk back.“
Suddenly, they saw the headlights of a car coming towards them, illuminating the figures of a group of men on bikes. The girls waved at them to stop.
“In an instant, we had an entourage of men wearing khanduras surrounding us, asking if we were okay and handing us bottles of water.”
Fortunately, the men were also carrying tools, and one shone a huge spotlight on the bike, while others got to work on the repairs.
“Amongst all of the commotion I had caused with this twisted chain, I failed to take in my surroundings and realise who was stood metres away,” Hutchison said.
“Then I heard Brenda say, ‘Do I know you?’ to one of the men on the bikes… ‘I do know you, you’re famous, aren’t you?’
“I then looked towards her and realised just as she said: ‘You’re Sheikh Mohammed, aren’t you?’“
Hutchison said the next few minutes “were a bit of an excited blur”, but she remembers asking the ruler: “Do you come here often?”
Sheikh Mohammed responded that he does, and he enjoys being outside, cycling and running when the weather is cooler.
The girls also requested a photo with the ruler, and he was happy to oblige. “The man with the huge spotlight came in very handy again at this point.”
Finally, the bike was fixed, and the girls said their thanks and goodbyes.
“We cycled the next 40k on a huge high and kept replaying over the night’s events, very excited to share the news with our friends and family when we reached the end of the track,” Hutchison said.
“Thanks to Sheikh Mohammed and his team for coming to our rescue and for giving us a brilliant story which we will never forget.”