Saudi woman set to reach the South Pole


Sahar al-Shamrani, from Saudi Arabia, is set to be the first woman from the kingdom to conquer the southern hemisphere.

“By going to the southern hemisphere I am sending a message to all Arab women that nothing is impossible and also show the world what Saudis are capable of,” said Shamrani.

Shamrani, who works with a TV production team on a show called “Good Morning Fellow Arabs” for MBC in Dubai, was inspired to take part in a South Pole adventure after meeting a guest on the program, Dana al-Hamadi, the first Emirati woman to place her country’s flag at Antarctica.

“I felt inspired after seeing [Hamadi’s] pictures in the most southern continent, and I felt this is a trip is worth making,” she said.

Morocco’s Merieme Chadid was the first Arab woman to reach the South Pole. She is now Professor of Astronomy at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis.

Shamrani, a mother of one daughter, said that she had to undergo a special diet and training program to train her muscles to be physically strong for her Antarctica voyage.

“It is standard procedure [to train and diet]; it is important since we have to face challenging weather and deal with a [limited] food supply and we need to be physically strong.”

Hamadi’s trip seems to have inspired a host of Arab women to go to Antarctica.

Right after Hamadi's trip, Maryam al-Joann, an undergrad student of earth and space sciences in Germany, became the first Kuwaiti to walk on the icy southern continent in a science expedition in February 2011.

Shamrani’s 17-day long trip will see her travel from Dubai to Sao Paulo in Brazil and then to Buenos Aires in Argentina, and to most southern city of the country, Ushuaia where she will gather with the 90-people expedition to board a ship to Antarctica.

Organized by 2041, the International Antarctic Expedition, headed by the British scientist Robert Swan, the expedition will begin on February 27.

The 2041 expedition was founded by Swan, also a polar explorer, environmental leader, public speaker and the first person in history to walk to both the North and South poles.

The expedition aims to document the continent’s fragile ecosystem, observe Antartica’s landscape and to learn about climate change and sustainable development.

Antarctica ice cap is estimated to contain around 70 percent of the planet’s freshwater.

Addendum: It was brought to our attention that Shereen K. Tawfiq, a Saudi national, participated in a Wharton Leadership Venture to King George Island in Antarctica, located in the region of the South Pole, between January 2 and 7, 2011.