An intrepid team of four women from the Middle East and seven from Europe are set to launch a daring adventure to ski over 100 km in treacherous conditions to reach the North Pole.
Mariam Hamidaddin, 32, from Jeddah, will be part of the Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition 2018, spending 10 days on the shifting ice of the Arctic Ocean to reach the top of the world.
If successful, she will be the first female from Saudi Arabia to ski the last degree to the Geographic North Pole.
“I applied for this expedition because it is a challenge and an opportunity. An adventure with a diverse group of women which is focused on community, personal growth and empowers people. Of course, yes,” said Mariam.
The expedition aims to foster greater dialogue and understanding between women from Western and Arabian cultures.
“We want to send a strong and positive message about gender equality and the need for greater cultural understanding,” said expedition leader, Felicity Aston MBE, from the UK. “The world is facing global problems – such as climate change – that can only be tackled with global solutions. That requires everyone talking to each other more.”
In 2012, Aston became the first person in the world to ski across Antarctica alone and without the aid of kites, machines or dogs — a journey of 1,744 km that took her 59 days to complete.
The Euro-Arabian team will be sleeping in tents on the ice when they are not skiing, and will haul in sledges everything they need to survive in the Arctic. As well as the perils of temperatures as low as -40C, other hazards the team will face include movements of the pack ice that may split apart to reveal open water or push together to form walls of ice that have to be crossed. There is also the threat of polar bears.
The team will head to the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard from where they will fly to the floating ice station known as ‘Barneo’. They will start their ski journey across the Arctic ice to the North Pole from the station. Preparations for the expedition have been ongoing for nearly two years including training expeditions in Iceland and Oman.
The team will be conducting two important science experiments during the expedition and will be sharing their experiences live from the ice with schools and via social media. Updates will be posted on www.euroarabianexpedition.com.
The expedition is sponsored by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, as well as Engie, Poseidon Expeditions, OmanTel and I Feel Slovenia.
Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky — who will fly to the North Pole to meet and congratulate the women upon their arrival — said the company was proud to continue its support of inspiring female adventurers like Aston and her team.
He said: “For me, Arctic adventuring isn’t just an exciting challenge, it’s a powerful motivation. People like Felicity and her team – determined and passionate – genuinely inspire me. They’re also role models for the younger generation – they help them to really go after what they want in life.”
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette.