Anything is possible with determination and a little help from modern technology. That's the message of Haidar Taleb's inspirational 200-mile journey across the desert of the UAE in a solar-powered wheelchair of his own design. Completion of the voyage on December 2 will break the world record for distance traveled in a solar-powered wheelchair – a record he already holds for a 14-hour, 80-mile trip from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah. That trip was taken mere weeks ago, yet Taleb is already setting off again, in honor of the UAE National Day.
Taleb was diagnosed with polio at the age of four and has been confined to a wheelchair for the 43 years since. His solar-powered chair design was funded by Masdar, a company in the UAE that focuses on renewable energy and clean technology. Masdar is known for its ambitious projects: Taleb's previous expedition kicked off at Masdar City, Masdar's ongoing project to create a zero-carbon, sustainable community. The chair can travel at maximum speeds of 9-12 mph. Its solar panels, in addition to charging four 20-watt batteries, provide the rider shade from the sun's power-giving rays.
Over the course of his trek across all seven emirates, Taleb plans to stop at schools and centers for the disabled, spreading awareness about disability, sustainable energy. You can follow his journey here.
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I use a chair, and about six months ago a bus driver came up to me and suggested this very thing. I myself wondered why no one had done it yet. Voila!