By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter
The first Qatari man to scale Mount Everest, Sheikh Mohamed al-Thani, says he is not done yet and wants to achieve another record for his country - reach the highest peak on each of the seven continents of the world.
Also, the mountaineer says the personal milestone has brought more clarity in his life and taught him to be patient.
He was addressing a press conference for the first time in the country, held at Qatar Foundation’s Recreation Centre yesterday after his remarkable Everest feat.
Sheikh Mohamed began his two-month-long, adrenaline-filled journey to Mount Everest on April 4 and successfully reached the peak on May 22.
He was accompanied by a team of three of his friends, including Palestinian Raed Zidan, Iranian Masoud Mohamed and Saudi Arabian Raha Muharrak, as well as videographer Elia Saikaly.
He said the euphoric feeling he got after raising the Qatari flag for the first time on the mountain peak at 8,848m (29,029ft) was indescribable in words.
“It was like getting a gold medal in my own (personal) Olympics (of life)… I didn’t climb the Everest because I was competing against other people. I was competing with my own self… People say I ‘conquered’ Mount Everest. Actually, I conquered the mountain (of doubt) inside me (and proved that I could do it).”
About life’s lessons he learnt from his experience, he said there were two key aspects: patience and clarity in life.
“The one (big) thing that Mount Everest has taught me is to be patient. When you’re climbing the highest mountain in the world, it becomes obvious that no matter what your plans are, ultimately it is the mountain that dictates terms.
“Quite often, the weather would turn bad and there was no option but to be patient and wait for it to settle down (at the base camps),” he said, adding that mountaineering was all about survival through patience.
Sheikh Mohamed said without the support of his friends and all of them sticking together as a unit, none of them would have made it to the top. “Although we were physically prepared, we were not mentally prepared for how long it was going to take us and how long we would have to stay disconnected from our families and away from the world.”
Also, he said the feat brought clarity to his outlook on life. “What is important for you in life becomes very clear up there.”
One of the first things he did on reaching the mountain top, he recalled, was to make a phone call to his mother. “I said to her, ‘guess where your son is at this moment’,” he said, adding that his entire family was very happy with his achievement, especially his wife and child.
Although mountaineering enthusiasts are still very few in Qatar, Sheikh Mohamed said he would be more than happy to help and guide the Qatari youth. “I will be very happy to lead and train Qataris who are interested in similar adventures and mountaineering,” he said.
He also said he witnessed the effects of global warming first-hand on the mountain. “When we were coming down from Camp IV to Camp II, we saw huge lakes. Lakes mean that the ice is melting there fast. If we compare the pictures of the same spot from 50 years ago, we’ll see how little ice is there now,” he said.
But what should a man do after scaling the highest mountain in the world? Should he sit back, announce his retirement and bask in glory for the rest of his life? For Sheikh Mohamed, mountaineering is a life-long passion. He said he was determined to push his limits and would strive to reach the highest summits on all seven continents of the world.
His next stop is planned at Mount McKinley or Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America.
“Each of the seven summits brings with it a different learning experience about life,” he explained.
Born and raised in Sharjah, Sheikh Mohamed completed his MBA in 2006 from the American University of Sharjah.
In January 2012, he was entrusted with the position of director-general of Sharjah Statistics Centre. He is also a member of Air Arabia’s Board of Directors and co-founder of Musafir.com.
Sheikh Mohamed is the brand ambassador for Reach Out To Asia (Rota), an NGO that comes under Qatar Foundation and promotes education programmes worldwide.
“It was a privilege to be Rota’s ambassador and I am glad that my achievement has contributed in a small way…We as a team tried to raise $1mn for Rota’s education projects in Nepal,” he said, adding that he was highly impressed with Rota’s work in community development in Nepal.
Rota Director Mohamed al-Namaa said: “By reaching the summit of Mount Everest, Sheikh Mohamed al-Thani has made each and every one of us proud.”
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