The 2017 race-winner brings a whole new meaning to the term ‘off road riding’ in his new film, Yalla. Take a look for yourself:
For Yalla – which means ‘hurry’ or, ‘let’s go’ in Arabic – Sam was given the freedom of Dubai. He could ride his KTM 450 SX-F motocross bike wherever he liked – with nowhere off limits.And once he’d got his bike to the 160th floor of the world’s tallest building, the 830m-tall Burj Khalifa, Sam dismounted and climbed the remaining 90 mins to the top.
The seed of the idea for Yalla was sown when Sam was just starting his rally career. Based in Dubai at the time, the Brit and his friends would marvel at the city’s many immaculate golf courses, and fantasise about getting out there on a MX bike and tearing it up.One day, they hit up a half-finished course that had been abandoned before completion, and the experience, “put that dream in my head: can you imagine how cool it would be to actually ride on a golf course?”
Sam’s imagination was fired again in 2019 when he saw Kriss Kyle drop from a helicopter on his BMX, land on the Burj Al Arab’s helipad and ride on to turn Dubai’s landmarks into his own personal BMX park.
The Emirates Hills Golf Course was just one of the many exclusive locations that Sam hit up in the film, and he explains how the idea for the project quickly took shape.“I was given free rein to come up with these dream ideas of places to ride my bike – the sky was the limit.“It turns out that everywhere I wanted to ride, I could. And there were places I didn’t even think about going, like stood on top of the Burj Khalifa. What an absolutely mad experience that was.”
With the sky being the limit, the world’s tallest building couldn’t not feature in the film. Sam went to the very pinnacle of the skyscraper, and while space was way too tight for him to get his bike up there, it was as terrifying as any stretch of barren, lonely and inhospitable desert he’s ever likely to face in the Dakar Rally.
“Honestly, climbing the Burj Khalifa was petrifying! We took the lift to the 160th floor, then climbed ladders for about an hour-and-a-half and it was still dark when we got to the top. We’d set off at about 2 or 3am in the morning to make it up there in time for sunrise.“There’s this little hatch when you get to the very top. They opened it, I looked out over the edge, and I was like: ‘No, I don’t want anything to do with that’.”Eventually, Sam edged out onto the tiny platform in full riding kit and the shot was nailed from a helicopter. “That was mental. Absolutely mental,” he says of the opening day’s shooting.
Photo Credit – Naim Chidiac / Red Bull Content Pool