x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Emirati hopes to scale and jump from Burj Khalifa to usher in 2013

An Emirati mountaineer is awaiting permission to climb to the summit of Burj Khalifa on December 31, before base jumping from the top at midnight.

Saeed Al Memari speaks about his plans to scale the Burj Khalifa and base jump at midnight to usher in 2013.
Saeed Al Memari speaks about his plans to scale the Burj Khalifa and base jump at midnight to usher in 2013.

DUBAI // Mountaineer Saeed Al Memari is waiting to hear whether he will be able to go ahead with his daring plan to climb Burj Khalifa and base jump from the top.

He aims to begin the ascent of the world’s tallest tower, using ropes attached to its side, at 5pm on New Year’s Eve.

If all goes to plan, he will reach the top by midnight – just in time to jump as fireworks welcome the arrival of 2013.

Mr Al Memari is taking part in the Travellers Festival, a celebration of adventurous travel being held at the Cultural and Scientific Association’s building in Al Mamzar, Dubai.

Awad bin Magrin, the festival organiser, applied to Emaar Properties – which is staging the New Year’s Eve celebrations at Burj Khalifa – on Mr Al Memari’s behalf for permission to carry out the daredevil stunt. Emaar expects more than a million people to attend the New Year celebrations.

“We did a proposal for climbing Burj Khalifa,” said Mr bin Magrin. “They liked the idea but the short notice was difficult.

“We are trying to push it along and he’s ready to do it.”

Mr Al Memari, 34, from Fujairah, was the first Emirati to reach the top of Everest, and has repeated the climb.

He said jumping during the fireworks show would be safe because he would step off during a gap in the display.

“We want to have both together, the fireworks and me,” he said. “If I jump at night without the fireworks no one will see my parachute with ‘2013’ and pictures of Sheikh Khalifa [the President] and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid [the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai] on it. We will arrange with Emaar the best time to jump because there are some breaks during the fireworks. Jumping will take just a few seconds.”

His parachute will also carry the message “wishing you a happy New Year” in Arabic and English.

“I have done a lot of base jumping and I’m a freefall jumper,” he said. “I have climbed some of the world’s highest mountains so this will be nothing. Every 15 floors, I’ll have a break, so it will be easy.”

Tom Cruise was famously filmed climbing Burj Khalifa for the film Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. But Mr Al Memari said: “I had the idea before Mission: Impossible. As soon as I saw the building, I decided I wanted to climb it.”

He is also attempting to become the first Arabian Gulf national to climb the seven highest peaks in the world. He has two to go – McKinley in Alaska and Vinson in Antarctica – and plans to set off to complete the challenge early in the New Year. The trickiest moment so far came in August when he reached the top of Everest for the second time.

“I tried to take a picture of myself without my goggles,” he said. “When I removed them, my right eye became frozen, so I came down with from the top with sight in only one eye.”

Mr Al Memari is one of a number of intrepid adventurers taking part in the festival. The event has been organised by Emirates Travellers, a group of globetrotters, with support from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

Fellow mountaineer Suzanne Al Houby, a Palestinian who lives in Dubai, will be talking about the moment she became the first Arab woman to climb Everest.

Swiss couple Emil and Liliana Schmid, who are in their 70s, will recount some of the adventures they have experienced during 28 years of travels in a Toyota Land Cruiser. They have visited 172 countries, covered 680,000 kilometres and earned a place in the Guinness World Records book.

The festival began on Wednesday and ends on Thursday.

csimpson@thenational.ae