Emirati women embark on Antarctica expedition
Five fearless future leaders take on the wilderness
By Binsal Abdul Kader, Staff Reporter
Published: 00:00 March 9, 2012
Abu Dhabi While climbing a mountain in Ushuaia in Argentina as training ahead of an Antarctica expedition, five Emirati women said they felt their lives were tied with one rope.
“Because we were connected together on a rope for safety reasons while climbing the mountain,” they told Gulf News by email.
The five female employees of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) — Khadijah Al Mutawa, Alia Al Khafajy, Anna Ayoub, Oshba Mubarak and Yasmin Al Juwadri — reached Argentina after flying more than 18 hours for a four-day long training camp on February 26.
When they arrived in Ushuaia a magnificent view of mountains greeted them. One of the team members, Khadijah Al Mutawa, managed to reach the top of the mountain on the second day of training. “We all were proud of her achievement,” they said. It was a group hike to the mountains.
The group is in South America as part of the 2041 International Antarctica Expedition which, created by adventurer Robert Swan, aims to take future leaders from all over the world to the wild continent to help ensure it is protected in years to come.
On the final day of training the UAE group realised they were out of their comfort zone as they had to hike a mountain of 5km.
“It was an experience full of different emotions and learning,” said the team. “Our team headed to the bottom of the mountain full of excitement.”
The team consisted of an incredible young man who cycled 35,000km from Alaska and 12 months later he was sharing his stories while hiking the mountain.
There was a true team spirit which elevated all team members and made mountain hiking far easier than doing it as an individual, they said.
“We finally accomplished the first task successfully with courage and braveness. During the hike we reconnected with nature quenching our thirst from running streams and breathing fresh air with positive synergy all around,” they said.
During the training they had met Robert Swan and he discussed the objectives of the mission. He also took them through the itinerary.
The team boarded the ship to Antarctica on March 2. “This moment is a vital moment filled with excitement as we embark on the ship Sea Spirit,” the women said. “As 78 team members from 22 nations, we will be sharing a once in a life time experience. Different languages and different cultures are now one big family, communicating together and carrying our flags with pride and honour.”
Anyone can travel to the Antarctic as it belongs to everyone and no one. However, the most treacherous stretch of sea, the Drake Passage, must be crossed, they said. The open ocean between the tip of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula is renowned for its fierce and unforgiving nature.
“We face the challenge of how our bodies will react, as they have never been tested in this environment. We’ve been officially removed out of our comfort zone,” they said.