Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Ali al Shamsi, left, and Taryam al Subaihi, employees with Etihad Airways, want to impart what they learnt during the trip to Antarctica as part of the international expedition to the continent around the South Pole.
Sammy Dallal Photographer
Ali al Shamsi, left, and Taryam al Subaihi, employees with Etihad Airways, want to impart what they learnt during the trip to Antarctica as part of the international expedition to the continent around the South Pole.

Emiratis are 'inspired' after Antarctica voyage

A group of Emiratis have returned from their expedition armed with an urge to spread awareness about the impact of climate change.

DUBAI //Five Emiratis have returned from a voyage to Antarctica as "environmental converts" and now plan to share their insights into climate change with their compatriots.

The group was part of an expedition organised by the veteran polar explorer Robert Swan.

During the 14-day journey, they witnessed melting ice caps, islands populated by penguins and a sprawling desert of ice. The trip was designed to forge a group of environmental ambassadors who would learn in-depth about climate change and pass on the message to their home countries.

Sixty-six people took part from nations including China, India, the UK, the US, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Egypt.

The UAE participants, who were selected for their leadership skills, landed in Ushuaia, Argentina, last Friday and arrived back in the Emirates the following Monday.

Taryam al Subaihi, a corporate communications adviser for Etihad Airways, was part of the UAE delegation.

"Throughout the trip, we've been discussing what's the best approach when we get home," Mr al Subaihi said. "We want to start first by making some changes within our families, and then we will start promoting the issue to the public."

The group has already discussed a countrywide speaking tour, where they can spread what they learnt by appearing in front of students at universities and colleges.

"We are all aware of climate change in a general way, but when you are presented with the actual specific numbers and statistics, it can be eye-opening," he said. "I guess you could call me an environmental convert. Everyone will follow that path though, if they know the facts."

Robert Swan, the leader of the expedition and the first man to walk to the North and South Poles, said that the UAE team "really connected" with the Antarctic.

"For them it was like moving from one desert to another," he said. "They were able to stand back and review their own leadership skills and learn from this place. Most importantly, they were able to see how to move sustainability forward in their companies.

"We have made a great step in linking to the UAE with not just words but people. We now need to build on that inspiration and make it sustainable."

On-board the ship during the journey, the group was given a series of detailed presentations from environmental experts on the effects of climate change, a schedule Mr al Subaihi admitted was quite "full-on".

One of the most affecting experiences came when the crew was roused at 6.30am and brought up on deck. All around them were ice caps, which had been diminished by a rise in temperatures.

"To see the change right there in front of you is a shock," he said.

Throughout the experience, the Emirati crew forged deep ties with the other delegates, and hope to work with them via social networking to further spread the environmental message.

"We are planning to use Facebook to keep in contact," said Mr al Subaihi. "Everyone is going to share their process of changing things in their home countries. Whatever any of us does, we'll know about it and be able to use that as an example for each other."

The first Emirati to go on Mr Swan's expedition last year was Sheikh Abdulaziz al Nuaimi, often referred to as the "Green Sheikh". He said that since his visit he had been more active in promoting environmental causes.

"I felt I suddenly had more enthusiasm and energy in promoting the cause," he said. "I would like to see at least two or three Emiratis going to Antarctica every year, in order to keep up the momentum and increase environmental awareness."

mcroucher@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 An Egyptian Orthodox Christian priest give communion during the Palm Sunday service inCairo, Egypt. Mohamed El-Shahed / AFP

Region in focus - April 18, 2014

The best images of the last seven days from around the Gulf and across the Middle East.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Southampton owner Katharina Liebherr is pictured before the Premier League match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium in Southampton, southern England, on March 1, 2014. Glyn Kirk / AFP

New Southampton owner leading club’s resurgence from the shadows

Katharina Liebherr keeping with family tradition and letting others dominate the spotlight

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National