Slow-but-sure solar wheelchair sets record

The setting sun nearly thwarted Haidar Taleb's 14-hour journey from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah, but the 47-year-old polio sufferer has broken the record for longest motorised wheelchair journey.

DUBAI // An effort to travel a record distance in a solar-powered wheelchair was almost thwarted by the setting sun.

Haidar Taleb found himself staring anxiously at his battery meter towards the end of his 141.7-kilometre journey from Abu Dhabi to Sharjah on Thursday. For the last hour, his wheelchair slowed down from 10 kph to one kph - giving out just five metres from the end. However, the trip far exceeded the 100 km required to break a Guinness world record for the longest motorised wheelchair journey.

Mr Taleb, a 47-year-old Emirati, set off from Masdar City at 6.33am and arrived at Sharjah's Al Thiqa Club for the Handicapped 14 hours later at 8.35pm.

Masdar contributed Dh100,000 to the cost of developing the specialised wheelchair and sponsored the journey.

Mr Taleb only has 10 days to rest before setting out on a tour of schools, malls and social clubs in every emirate that will wrap up at Sheikh Zayed Mosque on National Day.

"We want to raise awareness about disabilities," said Mr Taleb, who has suffered from polio from the age of four.