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Emirati mountaineer shares UAE’s vision of peace from world’s peaks

Emirati mountaineer shares UAE’s vision of peace from world’s peaks
20 Mar 2024 09:50

ISIDORA CIRIC (ABU DHABI)

Saeed Al Memari, an explorer from the UAE, has made a name for himself by pushing the limits of adventure. Armed with a passion for climbing and exploring, the Emirati adventurer has embarked on a journey that has taken him from the familiar landscapes of his childhood to some of the world’s highest peaks.

Born amidst the rugged beauty of Fujairah, with mountains on one side and the sea on the other, Al Memari spent a lot of time exploring the heights since he was young.

“I would always look at the mountains and think ‘what’s behind it’ - are the bigger mountains I can climb?” he told Aletihad.

Al Memari etched his name in history as the first UAE national to conquer Mount Everest.

Unlike most other mountaineers who usually climb Everest from Nepal’s side, Al Memari wanted the additional challenge of attempting a climb from the Tibetan side of the peak, one with fewer facilities and services, making it more challenging to conquer.

“I always love a challenge. I try to enjoy climbing by choosing the harder paths - the ambition always grows with those who seek excellence,” he explained.

But his ambitions soared higher than the Everest peak. He became the first Arab to complete the “Explorer Grand Slam”, summiting the highest mountains on each of the world’s seven continents in addition to the North and South Poles.

Climbing for PeaceThis monumental achievement was not just a personal victory, but the start of something bigger, inspiring Al Memari to use his explorer’s spirit to spread the message of peace, resilience, and unity from the UAE to the entire globe.

He started an initiative titled “Peak for Peace”, inspired by the UAE’s constant efforts towards a peaceful coexistence.

“I started this initiative because of what I saw in my country, how my rulers are always supporting peace around the world. Also, Islam means peace. So that’s why I decided to spread the message of peace presenting our people, our country, and religion,” the adventurer explained.

Through this initiative, he aims to collect messages of peace from individuals he meets on his way to conquering the highest mountains in every country across the globe, uniting people through the shared language of adventure.

The initiative will culminate in a book titled “Peak for Peace”, where he will dedicate two pages for each country he visited - one page about the country itself, half a page about the highest mountain in the country, and the rest to discuss the people he met, how they supported him on his journey, and their message of peace.

When Adventure Meets Danger

However, Al Memari’s narrative is not just about reaching summits and spreading the message of peace, but also about the trials and tribulations that test the human spirit.

Describing a harrowing experience he went through when conquering K2, popularly known as the “savage mountain” or the “mountain of death,” Al Memari witnessed the darker side of dangerous adventures.

“I lost many of my friends, people that I call brothers, with whom I spent two months together. I saw them and could not do anything for them. We buried some of them in the mountain,” Al Memari said.

At one point, he got lost from his group and faced the ultimate test of survival.

“I was literally lost from my group...and I survived alone on this dangerous mountain. And God protected me,” he recounted, attributing his survival to mental strength and the prayers of his loved ones.

“Ninety percent of it is mental; you have to be prepared well for these kinds of situations,” he explained.

UAE’s Support for Adventure

The support from the UAE, particularly from President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad Al Sharqi, the Crown Prince of Fujairah, has been instrumental in Al Memari’s journey, he shared.

“When I told my ruler, President H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, that I wanted to climb the highest mountain, His Highness looked me in the eyes and asked ‘Can you do this?’ I said yes, and His Highness replied ‘I am with you, you just keep going’”, he remembered.

This trust and encouragement have fuelled his missions, allowing him to represent the UAE on the global stage of adventure and exploration.

“I want to show them how far we can go,” he acknowledged, expressing gratitude for the unwavering support that empowered him to pursue his dreams.

Beyond the Highest Peaks

Within the UAE, Al Memari is a pioneer in promoting adventure sports and environmental conservation.

His leadership in establishing the Fujairah Adventure Centre has paved the way for a new era in adventure tourism and outdoor activities in the emirate.

“I had the honour to be selected by the Crown Prince of Fujairah to create the first government centre supporting adventurers,” he explained.

Since the start of the initiative six years ago, the team created over 60 hiking trails; 7 rock climbing spots with 20 different routes; 3 mountain biking spots, each of which features at least six different trails; over 50 diving spots, camping areas, and children’s parks.

A part of the initiative was the establishment of the Adventure Fujairah Park, boasting the first asphalt pump track in the Middle East - a track for wheeled sports equipment that does not require pedalling or pushing, but a “pumping” action to maintain momentum.

Looking to the future, Al Memari remains committed to pushing the boundaries of adventure and exploration. Whether it’s targeting the 14 highest peaks above 8,000 metres or fostering a new generation of adventurers through educational programmes, his journey is far from over.

“We can guide them and inspire them to start learning about each outdoor activity. They can grow up with this, they can be our heroes in the future,” he noted, highlighting his efforts to integrate adventure sports into the educational fabric of the UAE and encourage young adventurers to explore, dream, and reach for the summits of their own ambitions.

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