Omani explorer is first Arab to walk across North Pole
Tell us about your visit to the North Pole... I walked to the magnetic North Pole in April 2009. I had a friend from the army who did the exact same trek in 2007, and he got me interested in the idea by saying it doesn’t matter what record you hold – fastest, strongest, biggest – someone will always break that record unless you’re first! I now always try to be first at everything.
How does it feel to have your name go down in history? It feels great. Every time I go home to Oman, random strangers will say hello and thank me for doing something that made them feel proud.
Did you have to prepare your body in any special way? We all spent a week acclimatising in the Arctic, but I probably should have spent another week on top of that living out in the elements. The more time we spent exposed to the change in temperature, the better we were able to cope. We also put on as much weight as possible to try to develop layers of insulating fat. In that one area, I was ahead of the others!
What does it feel like to walk across the magnetic North Pole? Can you describe it? I used to think it was the hardest thing I have ever done, with a type of pain that is hard to describe, unless you have suffered -81°C… but I’ve also rowed across the Atlantic, and I’d rather walk to a pole than row another ocean.
Did you start your North Pole trip in the GCC? I suppose you could say that, but I flew to London, then to Canada. Only when we got to Resolute Bay did the expedition really start.
And now you’ve released a book of photographs – The Arab Who Took on the Arctic. What kind of things can readers expect to see? We imagine a lot of snow... [Laughs] Yes, a lot of snow and ice, but also a lot of pictures that describe the conditions and the task much better than a million words could. I had initially thought of writing a book, but it’s so much easier to understand alien concepts when you see a photo.
How has life been in the two years since you’ve returned? Life is exceptionally interesting and varied. I’m constantly on the go, meeting people I would never have had anything to do with otherwise, and doing things I’d never have done if it hadn’t been for the expedition. I was interviewed by Miss Italy on Italian state TV, I met the Bahraini Crown Prince, and I made a documentary… so it’s certainly not dull, and a lot more comfortable.
Are you getting ideas for your next adventure? I have no plans yet, but the South Pole is an idea, and going back to Everest one day. The Arab Who Took on the Arctic is available now in all good bookshops