Meeting with Mark Evans MBE from the Heart of Arabia Expedition

As a DofE UK Youth Ambassador, I am blessed by the opportunity to attend different events, while representing the youth generation and the DofE Charity. I was contacted by my Project Manager last month about an opportunity to attend the launch event for British explorer Mark Evans MBE’s Heart of Arabia Expedition. They also arranged time to do an interview with Mark.

The Heart of Arabia Expedition will be a two-stage 1,300km journey across Saudi Arabia, loosely following the route of Harry St John Philby’s 1917 east to west Arabia expedition.

This journey will start in Al Uqair on 15 November and, using Philby’s meticulous field notes, the team will travel inland by foot, camel and 4×4. By using 4×4 vehicles, the team will be able to travel greater distances off the original route to visit places of interest that Philby mapped in the 40 years of his life when he was exploring. On reaching Riyadh, the expedition, like Philby’s, will pause, before descending the 2,000 ft escarpment onto the plains below, crossing lava fields and ancient pilgrim trails before arriving in the Red Sea at Jeddah in early 2023.

During the interview, I found Mark to be an incredibly fascinating person with amazing experiences. He recalled growing up near Shrewsbury surrounded by wildlife which sparked his love for the outdoors. Without any prior experience, he applied for his first expedition at the British Exploring Society to go to the Artic and Norway when he was 17 and to his surprise, he was offered a place to go. Speaking about challenges for his upcoming expedition, I got to learn that camels ‘getting soft’ nowadays, being treated with luxury with food and water delivered to their mouths while staying in the shade. To get them prepared, he has to put them through ‘boot camp’. A piece of advice he gave was to seek help and guidance from those that are more experience. This reminded me of my DofE journey of joining Bronze in Form 3 with no camping or navigation experience whatsoever, to building up experience with the support of my friends and teachers, to finishing Gold and now paying it back by helping to train our new Bronze and Silver participants during twilight sessions and on expeditions. Inspired by Mark’s experiences, my new bucket list destination is exploring the Yukon region of Canada and seeing the northern lights.


Anders 6.2