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At 18, this Emirati girl is nothing short of inspirational.

Summary: Samia Al Mudharreb, the first Emirati to go on Antarctic expedition says the trip changed her life

She journeyed to the cold depths of Antarctica at the age of 17. Received a full scholarship to study electrical engineering in the US, and recently completed her 16th solo skydiving jump.

In short, 18-year-old Emirati, Samia Al Mudharreb, is nothing short of inspirational.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, once tweeted: "The history accounts for Arabs who were pioneers in many fields, and we believe that their spirit is still alive in our youths today."

The kind of youth he is referring to is Samia. She stepped out of line for a cause.

"My dream, no matter what I study or what I go on to do, is to leave a footprint on the world. To inspire and be inspired," Samia told Khaleej Times .

Last year, the ambitious teenager left behind the comforts of Dubai to accompany environmental leader, Robert Swan, on a voyage to Antarctica, where temperatures reached an unimaginable -46C. The trip marked the first time an Emirati had embarked on such an expedition.

"It was amazing and the memories never leave my mind. We did that expedition for a purpose - to ban drilling on the continent and save the Antarctic from over exploitation and environmental degradation."

With a dream to pursue medicine prior to the trip, Samia's life path took an unexpected turn after returning from the journey.

"It changed my whole world. That trip pushed me to change my life path. I wanted to focus on engineering and sustainability. What better way to support such a goal than with real life experience," she said. Now studying Electrical Engineering at the University of Arizona in the US after receiving a full scholarship from Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Samia said she will always remember one piece of advice her mentor, Robert Swan, gave her: 'Do what you need to do for humanity'. "That quote will always stick out in my mind. If I can grow into anything near the kind of human being that Swan is, I will be satisfied," she said.

Samia said her family have always been her biggest supporter when it comes to "thinking big", no matter how dangerous a potential feat may be.

"Just recently I began skydiving. Even before I made my first tandem jump I knew I wanted to learn how to jump solo. When I told my mum she didn't quite believe me till she saw the evidence."

Though she admits fear is most likely imbedded in the back of her parents minds when it comes to detailing her next adventure, they are always the first to encourage her with a big "yes".

"My dad has always pushed me to get my voice heard, and I would say my interest in sustainability came from my mum's side. She's always been an advocate for that."

And it is this open mentality which has allowed Samia to grow into the person she is today, she said.

"For me, honestly, I think just like my parents. I think with my heart and the biggest lesson I have learnt is, if you're heart is not in it, you won't succeed."

She said: "True determination determines a person's success", and for other youths in the UAE she has one message: "Push yourself. Don't be scared and don't have regrets. Make a difference but make that difference doing something that means something to you."

To date, Samia has just completed her first year of University in the US, all while completing 16 solo skydive jumps in the Arizona desert. She is in talks with her university to fly Swan in to give a collaborative talk - with Samia - on the importance of sustainability in this ever changing world, a talk she hopes will inspire others.

"I couldn't have had a better mentor in my life than my parents or Swan. If I can help inspire Emirati youth, or any youth for that matter, then this is all well worth it."

kelly@khaleejtimes.com

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:Dec 5, 2015
Words:703
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