If you have the right kind of attitude, you will reach the right altitude with gratitude. This was the crux of the extraordinarily stories shared by four exceptional Qatari adventures during a recent gathering.
The adventurous stories of Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulla al-Thani, the first Qatari man to summit Mount Everest; Sheikha Asma al-Thani, the first Qatari to ski to the North Pole; Hamida Issa, the first Qatari woman in history to step foot on Antarctica; and Khalid al-Jaber, Qatari biker who has travelled around the world; inspired a gathering at Lusail.
The event was organised by BigB Meetup, a community activity group, at Altitude Elite in Lusail to listen to the inspiring and adventurous stories of the Qataris in their own words. The interactive session allowed the audience to ask questions from the adventurers and learn from the top Qatari achievers.
Opening the discussion, Bosco Menezes from BigB Meetup and the host of the event, said that it was the third discussion under the theme of ‘Sports and Wellness’ that is organised every February to coincide with the National Sport Day of Qatar.
“Under my community initiative #bigbmeetup, it is the sixth event in total. I run different programmes under four themes that are namely: ‘This Ability,’ championing people who are differently abled; Estedamaa, sustainability; Celebrating Artists, and Sports and Wellness. As far as sports and wellness programme goes, I invite people from different sports who have some achievements under their belts from the wellness areas in Qatar. This time we have invited four Qatari adventurers who shared their amazing stories and inspired the gathering,” said Bosco while talking to Community.
The discussion was aptly anchored by Ahmed al-Shahrani, a differently-abled Qatari and fitness enthusiast. There were two other speakers who spoke about their works in the areas of social work and wellness. The talk was however primarily focused on the adventures of the four Qatari nationals.
Al-Shahrani started the talk by asking Mohamed bin Abdulla what went through his mind standing on top of Mount Everest with Qatar’s flag in his hand, to which Mohamed laughingly said: “The first thing I thought about was that I had to go down [people laugh]. Going up was the half way only. Raising the Qatari flag after the long training for five years, was wonderful. I had to make lots of sacrifices and take on many challenges.”
He added: “We started climbing the last summit at 8 or 9pm. It was pitch dark and there was no oxygen. I kept climbing and thought that every step we take brings us closer to the summit. The fastest I walked was two steps every minute. Then I reached the summit and raised the flag. I started screaming. I cannot explain that feelings. We spent just 15 minutes at the peak. I made one phone call to my mother when I was at the summit.”
Speaking about her adventures, Hamida Issa said: “I met an environmentalist in London where I studied. He was looking for an Arab woman who can travel with him to Antarctica. I think it was written in my fate to go there. It takes longer to reach Antarctica than to reach moon. I felt the calling. I did it. It is the best thing that I have done in my life. It is the most untouched nature in the world. When I was there, I felt the insignificance and humility of existence. I felt very humble and grateful for being alive and experiencing such a beautiful place. The silence was what really struck me. It was a life changing experience. That is why I made the second trip.
“I think people fear the unknown. My family was obviously reluctant because it was something that no other woman in Qatar had done before.”
Khalid al-Jaber, who travelled around the world on his motorbike, said: “I travelled the Silk Road. I was looking for an adventure to find myself. I have done lots of things in my life but I never felt satisfied until I started the bike adventures. I wanted to do something exciting. I consider myself as a professional biker. My family is really proud of my achievements.”
Sheikha Asma al-Thani, the first Qatari to ski to North Pole, said that at an early age she had made a list of things that she would do when she grew up. “I wanted to climb a mountain besides doing some other things. I loved outdoor activities. I love to challenge myself.
“It took me and my team two years to train ourselves for the expedition. We learnt that every single person is a lifeline for the other person in the expedition. We depended on each other during the trip.”
The gathering also asked interesting and probing questions from the adventurers about their expeditions during the session.
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