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Around the world in a yacht.

French yachtsman Philippe Poupon, who is sailing around the world with his family to spread awareness about conserving the oceans, believes Oman has great potential to be one of the most beautiful and safest countries in the world.

In an exclusive interview with TheWeek , Philippe took note of the fact that many tourist destinations were littered with plastic bags and bottles which is very harmful to the environment, especially marine life. However, if there are concerted efforts to conserve the environment, by acting responsibly, Oman can become one of the best destinations in the world. "Oman is a jewel of the Arab world... it must kept that way," he said.

Philippe sailed into Oman with his actress wife Geraldine Danon and their children -- Loup, Laura and Marion -- aboard their 60-foot ketch Fleur Australe from Djibouti, Africa, last week and was received by representatives of the Ministry of Tourism in Salalah. The ministry made elaborate arrangements for the family to explore Oman and strengthen ties between the people of Oman and France, Rania Khodr -- directrice France in the sultanate's tourism office in France, who had accompanied the family on a city tour, told TheWeek .

Setting out from Alaska in 2010 to provide real-time observations on the state of the oceans, Philippe and his family have so far travelled across the Pacific, Atlantic, Mediterranean, the Southern Ocean and to both polar regions. They are not sure how long it will take to complete this expedition around the world but are only concerned with spreading their message of conserving nature all along.

Geraldine, a French actress and film producer, said she has taken up the task of producing a steady output of informative films as they traverse through different continents. She also doubles up as the cook, doctor and housekeeper aboard the yacht.

Since their marriage ten years ago, Geraldine has been on 15 expeditions with Philippe and made 17 movies using live footage of their sailing expeditions. Their trip to Oman will also provide interesting visuals for her next movie, she said, lauding the natural beauty of Oman which took taken them by surprise.

The family will anchor their boat at Sifah and head back to France as Geraldine needs to catch up with acting assignments. They will come back six months later to continue their onward journey from Oman to India. "We have a long way to go and each day is a new day for us," she said.

Phillipe, who is a seasoned sailor with many accolades to his credit, has not only built the boat himself but is well versed with every aspect of its maintenance and upkeep. He handles the entire navigation single-handed. Besides his family, onboard the yacht is a lady teacher to teach his two daughters.

Asked how she manages to take on the harsh effects of UV radiation and the salty sea breeze on her skin, being an actress, Geraldine said she takes precautions to protect her skin as she needs to face the camera when ashore. "This trip may not be good for the face but it is good for the soul. And, whatever is good for the soul, will be seen on the face," she said.

Geraldine also takes special interest in cooking healthy food for her family on their boat, based on supplies locally available. While in Oman, the family has been trying Arabian dishes, especially seafood.

Reiterating his message of conservation to the people of Oman, Philippe said the experience of swimming alongside dolphins off Al Hallaniyat islands was one to treasure for a lifetime. "It is important for you to take good measures to protect these dolphins and turtles in Oman so that it continues to be a beautiful destination forever," he cautioned. Asked if he has any fears when they are out in the sea, Philippe said the only fear was about human disregard for the environment.

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Publication:The Week (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Apr 26, 2017
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