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North Pole calling.

Byline: Mrudu Naik(Mrudu Naik)

MUSCAT Eoe1/4" Imagine walking 650km over frozen sea, through polar bear reserves, in temperatures averaging minus 40-degree Celsius, and dragging 50kg of equipment, food and shelter.

Imagine cold black ocean, masses of ice heaving up and down, arctic whales cruising silently below and full moon tide crashing ice. Imagine being far away from civilised life.

ThatEoe1/4aos where Nabil Eoe1/4Y[pounds sterling]NabsEoe1/4ao Al Busaidi wants to reach.

He wants to take a journey like no other, turn a dream into reality and go where few have been before: Yes, the North Pole.

Nabil wants to create history by becoming the first Omani to do the North Pole expedition.

The idea of walking to the North Pole stuck Nabil a year ago, and the last eight months have gone into planning and executing. Today, Nabil is just 11 days away from starting his journey Eoe1/4" Oman North Pole Expedition. Leading a team of three, others being British nationals J.P. Downes and Claire Shouksmith, NabilEoe1/4aos journey will start on March 29.

The team will set off to Resolute Bay, in Nunavut, formerly known as the Northwest Territories of Canada. The plan is to finish at the last certified position of the North Magnetic Pole, 32km from Isachson, on Ellef Ringnes Island sometime in the beginning of May.

Before deciding on the expedition, Nabil considered climbing Mount Everest, but he found that 2,500 people had climbed the worldEoe1/4aos highest summit. Eoe1/4EoI have a friend in Bahrain who had unsuccessfully tried to climb the Everest. We would often chat about going up there. But along the way I thought I must be doing something what others had not done,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says.

First Arab

On surveying, Nabil found out that until now only 200 people had walked to the North Pole. Eoe1/4EoI thought if I walk the North Pole I would be the first Arab to do so. It would be not only prestigious for Oman but the entire Arab region,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says.

Nabil knows itEoe1/4aos going to be a demanding expedition, but as he puts it, Eoe1/4EoIf it was easy, it wouldnEoe1/4aot be worth doing. Also many people havenEoe1/4aot done it because it is a dangerous thing to do.Eoe1/4A[yen]

Nabil has been going through rigorous training for the past few months. Eoe1/4EoI have been training every month in the UK. I have been going for technical and organisational schedules. Besides, fitness endurance and aerobic training is a daily routine now,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says. Every day starts with running up stairs, or swimming, or on the cross-country ski machine. On the rest days, it is physiotherapy, massage and even acupuncture to ensure he is in peak condition when he sets off.

Nabil has also gone through fitness wake up calls, tent and stove handling, practical GPS (Global Positioning System) work, sledge/harness demo. Besides, he has attended medical and satellite phone seminars.

Eoe1/4EoThe first part of our expedition will involve equipment training and setting up required supplies,Eoe1/4A[yen] informs Nabil.

On the way to the North Pole, there will be checkpoints every hundred miles for the team to replenish food, fuel and equipment. Eoe1/4EoWhen we reach the check point, the base team will fly out on a plane to replenish. They will also look for medical injures if any,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says.

North Pole expeditions are a combination of mental attitude, physical stamina and skills, however, despite all the hard work, an expedition to the top of the world is obviously weighed down by fears.

Eoe1/4EoOf course, I have lots of worries. It is a precarious expedition. It is not something that we can just get up and do just because we feel like doing it,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says. The biting cold, polar bears, sinking ice Eoe1/4" challenges may come in several unknown forms, Nabil is aware.

So, when fears crop up what does he do

Eoe1/4EoI carry a carrot and stick for every situation. I have given up my job to do this. If I donEoe1/4aot achieve anything I wonEoe1/4aot have a job too. That is a stick. But the carrot is if I do it I would be the first Arab. That is a big carrot.Eoe1/4A[yen]

Nabil is also conscious that failure could come in the form of death or serious injury.

Bear attack

Eoe1/4EoWe have arranged everything meticulously. However, we realise there is a limit to mitigate risks. Of course, we will be carrying shotguns for polar bears, emergency distress backpacks and GPS transponders for Canadian rescue services. But what happens if a polar bear attacks us while we are sleeping.Eoe1/4A[yen]

Obviously, Nabil is not thinking much about the negatives. Eoe1/4EoI have other missions in mind,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says.

Nabil wants to inspire the youth of Oman to do something extraordinary with their lives.

He also wants to present a positive image of Arabs and Muslims in the media by presenting an articulate and liberal example. Eoe1/4EoThere must be billions out there who have got a wrong image about Muslims. I want to present a positive counter example to prove that the majority in the Middle East are not how we are portrayed in the Western media,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says.

Nabil has also selected charities in Oman, which he would like to support. One among them is Association of Early Intervention for Children with Special Needs. Eoe1/4EoThe Association for Early Intervention will use the publicity to highlight what they are doing. Other charities can be chosen by my sponsors to fit an already existing corporate social responsibility strategy,Eoe1/4A[yen] he explains.

A film company based in the UK and Dubai will make a documentary of the expedition. The filming during the actual expedition will be taken care of by his teammate J.P. Downes. Eoe1/4EoObviously, this documentary may not have a fabulous cast of characters, but it is a wonderful exposure for sponsors.Eoe1/4A[yen]


The documentary will be sold for broadcast on MBC, Dubai One, Al Jazeera, National Geographic, as well as Oman TV. Nabil has found supporters for his dream expedition in the form of Sohar Aluminium, Nawras, Mistal, KPMG, Desertline Projects.

Eoe1/4EoSohar Aluminium has paid for the entire trip. It was their opportunity to call it Eoe1/4Y[pounds sterling]Sohar Aluminium North Pole expedition but they chose to promote the country and insisted on it being called Eoe1/4Y[pounds sterling]Oman North Pole Expedition.Eoe1/4ao I was touched by their gesture,Eoe1/4A[yen] he says.

The Ministry of Sports is contributing to the cause and Nabil has met up with Ministry of Tourism officials too.

Ask Nabil how the adventurer streak runs through his veins. Eoe1/4EoI actually donEoe1/4aot know. There is nobody in the family who has an adventure element. In fact, my mother doesnEoe1/4aot want me to go and my father thinks I am crazy,Eoe1/4A[yen] he laughs.

Nabil credits the exposure he got while studying in the UK for his courageous temperament.

Eoe1/4EoI have represented the university in football, rugby, shooting, and American football. I also joined the British Army as a rifleman with the Light Infantry before being commissioned into the Royal Artillery as an officer,Eoe1/4A[yen] he explains.

Nabil gave up a lucrative job as director of finance administration in a private jet company to do what he wants to do.

Here is wishing good luck to the man on a mission who wants to plant the Omani flag on top of the world.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Date:Mar 17, 2009
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