The United Arab Emirates is famous for a lot of things – exotic hotels, the tallest building in the world and its ample quantities of sunlight. It’s therefore not a huge to surprise to learn that a solar powered wheelchair has been developed in the UAE. But if this design for health isn’t enough to impress you, the chair’s designer is undertaking an epic journey of 200 miles to prove its capabilities.
The solar powered wheelchair was designed and developed by Haidar Taleb, a 47 year old disabled UAE citizen. Taleb was diagnosed with polio at the age of four and has since been confined to a wheelchair. In order to use the vast amounts of sunlight that his home country provides, Taleb designed a solar powered wheelchair that he managed to develop after receive funding from Masdar, the UAE’s leading renewable energy company. Masdar is famous for its ambitious renewable energy city, Masdar City, which aims to become the world’s first zero carbon metropolis.
Taleb’s wheelchair is powered by four 20-watt batteries and is capable of a top speed of 12 mph. In order to showcase its abilities, Taleb is planning a record-breaking 200 mile voyage across the desert in the wheelchair. “With this journey I hope to raise awareness of disability and sustainability as well as what we can achieve as individuals if we have the courage and determination to try,” he said.
Taleb’s journey is expected to take him across all seven emirates with Haidar stopping at schools and universities to inspire people with his journey. “I want to send out a message to disabled people that there are no obstructions. Whatever you think about, you can do,” he says. “Give disabled people a chance and they can perform miracles.”
Taleb is expected to complete his trek on 2 December, where he will then have broken the record for longest distance traveled in a solar-powered wheelchair – a record he already set himself just two weeks ago. Earlier this month, Haidar earned his place in the Guinness Book of World Records by cruising over 80 miles in his wheelchair during a 14 hour trip from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah!