Anisa al Raisi becomes first Omani to ski to the Geographic North Pole

The Euro-Arabian polar Expedition team. Inset: Anisa al Raisi (Supplied photographs)

Muscat - 

Muscat resident and Outward Bound Oman instructor Anisa al Raisi, 34, has become the first Omani to reach the Geographic North Pole. Anisa was part of an 11-member Euro-Arabian Polar Expedition led by English explorer and Antarctic scientist Felicity Aston MBE. The team reached the North Pole just eight days after starting the expedition.

The expedition which also included Lamees Nijem (Kuwait), Mariam Hamidaddin (Saudi Arabia) and Asma al Thani (Qatar), reached the North Pole after travelling over 80km on the shifting ice of the Arctic Ocean, according to a press release.

They faced freezing temperatures, open patches of water in the sea ice, as well as the constant threat of polar bears during their adventure which started on April 15 when the team departed the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. From there they flew to the floating ice station known as ‘Barneo’ and started their ski journey across the Arctic pack ice.

Preparations for the expedition started nearly two years ago which also included training in Iceland and Oman. Felicity is an experienced polar guide. In 2012, she became the first person in the world to ski across Antarctica alone and without the aid of kites, machines or dogs – a journey of 1,744km that took her 59 days to complete.

At the North Pole, Felicity said, “The team has endured extreme environment and restricted living spaces with great humour and tremendous sense of adventure. They have held on tightly to their reasons for making this trip and each team member has been critical to the success of the expedition. “We want to send a strong and positive message about gender equality and the need for greater cultural understanding when tackling large problems.”

After a particularly gruelling last leg of the trip, the team arrived at the North Pole in good spirits. They were met there by their sponsor Eugene Kaspersky who flew out by helicopter to meet and celebrate with them at the top of the world. They were also reunited at the Pole with Saudi teammate, Mariam, who had to leave the team on day two after getting injured.

The team participated in two important science experiments during the expedition looking at the effect of the extreme environment on their bodies and on their minds. The expedition's sponsors include Kaspersky Lab, Omantel, Engie, Poseidon Expeditions and I Feel Slovenia.

Geographic Vs Magnetic North

Geographic north and south poles are determined by the Earth's spin. They are the locations on Earth through which the axis of the Earth's spin passes. Magnetic north is determined by the direction a compass points. Earlier in March 2009, Omani explorer Nabil al Busaidi had become the first Arab to walk to the Magnetic North Pole (which is different from the Geographic North Pole).

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