Matteo Parsini arriving at KAUST with his children by his side.
Traversing from East to West across 10 cities throughout the Kingdom in 30 days, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Professor of Applied Mathematics and Computational Science Matteo Parsani concludes his journey “Athar: East to West.”
Covering a long route that included Dammam, Riyadh, Qassim (Buraydah), Hail, AlUla, Red Sea Global, AlMadinah, Makkah, Jeddah, and concluding at KAUST, Parsani hand-cycled a distance of over 3,000 kilometers, averaging 150 kilometers per day.
Six years ago, Parsani faced a life-altering incident that left him with the loss of movement and sensation in the lower part of his body. Through years of meticulous monitoring and successful rehabilitation, Parsani made a remarkable decision to embark on the unprecedented coast-to-coast hand bike journey across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to promote physical activities, sports and awareness about people with disabilities. Drawing inspiration from the motivational words of the Crown Prince, who declared, "We dream, and we achieve!" Parsani commenced his extraordinary journey on December 17, 2023. This Herculean undertaking not only symbolizes personal triumph over adversity but also serves as inspiration for all people.
Parsani visited the headquarters of the Authority for Persons with Disabilities in Riyadh and multiple rehabilitation centers across the Kingdom, such as the Onaizah Association for Development and Human Services (Ta’heel) and the Children with Disabilities Association and engaged with persons with disabilities at AlBaik branches in Qassim, Hail and the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. Throughout his journey, Parsani was warmly welcomed in each city, experiencing the genuine hospitality of Saudi Arabia, known as "Hafawah," at every stop along the way.
Parsani shared his valuable experience with locals in each city, gaining insights into the unique traditions of each region. He expressed his sentiments about the hospitality he received. "I have experienced warm hospitality wherever I stopped. I have made friends in different parts of the Kingdom, and this is an experience that I will forever cherish.”
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Additionally, the determined professor shed light on the physical challenges he encountered during the journey and the motivation to overcome them. “It was a challenging 30-day journey, and I am happy to embody my message – and that is to dream big; you can do anything you set your mind to. With support and willpower, I was able to take on the challenge.”
KAUST President Tony Chan commended Parsani's unwavering determination to undertake such an adventurous journey. “We applaud Professor Matteo for his incredible 30-day hand cycling journey across Saudi Arabia, showcasing his grit and the power of the human spirit. His accomplishment is a singular reflection of his personal resilience, but Professor Matteo will also be first to acknowledge his team and the support of the KAUST community and the citizens of Saudi Arabia and indeed the global community,” he said.
The initiative took place with the support of several Saudi government entities and commercial partners, including the Ministry of Sport, Ministry of Interior, Saudi Embassy in the U.S., Authority for Persons with Disabilities, AlBaik, Shushah Island, Red Sea Global, Diriyah Gate Development Authority, the Royal Commission for AlUla, Saee, Saudi Sports for All Federation, Saudi Motorsport Company, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, Saudi Cycling Federation, Four Seasons, Montana Water, Baitna, Saudi Youth for Sustainability, as well as international entities such as McLaren Applied, McLaren F1, E1 Series, Sparco, Lucid, DMTC Agency, Villa Beretta Rehabilitation Research Innovation Institute, Solema, Politecnico di Milano, Viktor Elettromedicali & Physio, Partanna, LOVATO Electric and L.I.F.E (X10X).