As we continue to seek out more environmentally conscious modes of transportation, a new invention is being introduced in the region; the Saluki electric bike. Longtime friends and UAE natives, Fahad Hareb, Saoud Khoory, and Ali Al Madani, intertwined their love for cycling and their sense of innovation to develop the powerful electric bike that can handle the desert dunes as well as the gridlock of rush hour traffic with speed and efficiency, and—without making a sound. We spoke with the founders of EBikes UAE about their passion for using the bikes to train athletes and horses, their desire to ride motorbikes in shorts, and how electric bikes are the way of the future.
YOUSSEF AL SHAMMARI: Where does your passion for bicycles originate?
FAHAD HAREB, SAOUD KHOORY, AND ALI AL MADANI: Our passion for biking developed when we were kids, riding our bikes around our neighborhoods in Dubai. Being able to speed on a bike with nothing but the wind in our ears and the breeze in our hair was the closest we could get to feeling like birds flying in the sky or like the superheroes we saw on TV.
Tell us how you came together to launch your business.
The three of us have known each other for a while. We went to the same high school but were in different grades, and then we all went to Boston for our graduate studies. The main thing that we have in common and what brought us together is our love of adventure and the outdoors. We decided to combine our passions and turn them into a business.
ALI AL MADANI: Saoud loves anything electric and he was the first one in the group to own an electric bike. Fahad, being an electric engineer, spent a lot of time researching electric bikes online and wanted to build his own. I used to ride a Harley but was looking for something new that wasn’t as loud and didn’t burn my legs while riding in shorts. Right after my first ride on Saoud’s Stealth Bomber, I knew that I wanted an electric bike and to get involved in growing the ebike market in the region.
FAHAD HAREB: After the three of us got our electric bikes—Saoud and Ali got Stealth Bombers and I had had my own converted electric bike—we decided to take the next step and start a company due to the keen interest from our friends and people that we met while riding our bikes around town.
Describe the unique experience of riding ebikes.
One thing is guaranteed, whenever anyone test rides one of our bikes they always come back with a big smile on their face. The bikes take you back to when you were a kid and you felt like you were soaring while riding. Also, the silence of the engine allows you to be aware of your surroundings, making the experience very relaxing and enjoyable, especially when compared to a motorcycle, which is noisy and shaky.
Are the ebikes built for a good time in the desert or do you envision more uses for them?
The possibilities of using electric bikes can be limitless, as the vehicles operate both on and off the road. They can be used for commuting as well as fun activities. They are not just for riders who want more speed but also for people that have knee problems and can’t keep up with their friends or fellow riders. Our bikes are also being used to train athletes as well as horses; the trainers can easily keep up and the silent engine allows for better communication. Due to their stealth, we also see a future for the bikes with security companies and maybe even the army.
Many citizens around the world are embracing cycling as an essential mode of transportation; do you see a real future for cycling in the cities in the UAE and other MENA countries? Does the infrastructure support it?
Cycling is growing in popularity, especially in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The Roads and Transport Authority is currently planning to create more cycling friendly tracks; however, with some of our electric bikes, you don’t need separate lanes as they can safely be used on normal roads. You can ride alongside cars because the bikes can go up to the same speed. The problem with traditional bikes is that they are very slow compared to the cars on the roads, which can cause accidents.
Editor’s Note: The Arabian “Saluki” is one of the oldest breeds of dogs; Bedouins have been breeding the hunting dogs for thousands of years and they can reach very high speeds, sometimes up to 45 miles per hour.