Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Rumaitha: Greetings from Buenos Airis

Rumaitha: I have officially stepped foot on continent number FIVE! And soon enough number six will be on the way and I would have to make plans to visit Australia in the near future to be able to say that I have visited all seven continents of the world. It is exciting to be here. Today I managed to head down and discover the city for a bit but what I saw and enjoyed will follow up in another post.

In this post, I wanted to thank Nokia for hoping on board as a supporter to my Antarctic trip. The first leg of the trip even though was dull and absolutely LONG was a delight thanks to them. I tell yait was the longest trip of my life! A total of 20 hours of travel was seriously enough to get me to have secondthoughts and ponder on why I chose to do so, but then I remembered our fore fathers who literally walked during theirdays all the way from Sur to Muscat or Muscat to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Boy are we blessed with every advancement of technology.  Anyhoo, back to the main reason of this post! Yes, Nokia represented in MHD, who are celebrating 20 years of being an official Nokia dealer in Oman, was super kind to offer me their brand new Lumia 1020 to be my toy during my trip along with the accessories which have been such a joy to experience with.

The main itinerary was from Muscat to Doha then switch flights in Doha to head down to Buenos Aires via Sao Paolo. The first hours were sort of boring and of course I tried catching up to my utmost ability with sleep. Prior to trip, sleep deprivation is what I had been suffering for a few days especially with obtaining the visa (which is going to be a whole rant later on when I have the time to write it down). As I was flying over the Atlantic and heading closer to the coast of Brazil; the clouds must have been the best I have ever seen! I mean seriously I have had my fair share of travel but never have seen clouds like these in perfect beautiful form with breathtaking golden sun rays highlightingthem coupled with calmness of the ocean below; an absolute spectacle, which the Nokia Lumia 1020 never failed to disappoint in the capture.

Here’s a few of the snaps from the 40 megapixel camera (you read it correctly FORTY megapixels)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Freezing Cafe

It felt nice to be back in the freezer this weekend, this time we had a slightly different reason!
We were invited to 'Hand in Hand's CSR Day' at the Shangri-la hotel, The two day event aimed to assist CSR initiatives in raising awareness and funds!  
What really makes these initiatives really amazing is the talent that is uncovered in them; we saw some amazingly talented and inspiring entrepreneurs and initiatives. Some of the really inspiring things that we have seen are portable grills, a mishkak speed-loader, a guy that turns discarded items like CD's into things like clocks and of course initiatives like the I-Care initiative.

Seeing all the aspiring young people trying to do something is a really uplifting thing, and we all shared a look of respect; that look that says: "I know how hard it is to start an imitative and keep at it". It really makes you happy when you are doing something like that to realize that you aren't alone! and that there are many people that you can help and that can help you open heartedly!! well.....not just them, we had quite a few volunteers that really were amazing! (Abdullah al Ismaili, Nasser Al Khanjari, Maha Al Balushi, Tariq Al Balushi , Rumaitha Al Busaidi and Aziz Al Jahdhami)

Now, back to why we were there.......Well, the next Freezing Omanis are almost ready to be announced, they just need to finalize their deposit funding to 2041 and they are confirmed to go! But for now, they need some initial funds as well as some exposure and moral support.  So we did the one thing we know best; getting cold!
Enhance Oman has provided us with their freezer and we thought....hey, why don't we get some tea (has to be karak tea) and coffee (the hot chocolate was very high in demand!) and a few jackets and get people to see what it felt like, at the same time they would be escaping the summer heat for a short while :)
We would tell them the story of the Freezing Omanis, show them photos of the expedition and some goofy photos of Ameer and myself :p


People were amazing......they donated to help, they purchased some photos that we shot and the amazing bookmarks designed by Marwa Al Bahrani!

If you missed our cafe don't worry! Well be back at Shangri-la on the 25th from 7:30 onward :)
Don't forget to bring a jacket!!

Monday, 15 July 2013

Its NOT a holiday!!

I've often spoken about the most difficult part of the journey, the hunt for sponsorship....however I haven't spoken about the second most difficult; people's reactions

I do the monitoring for Freezing Omanis, so I read every comment and every word that I can find......not all are nice ones. There are many people who say that Antarctica is a holiday spot, and that why are we getting sponsored for a holiday?

First of all, its not........you can't just take a flight there, you get there through the roughest waterway in the world. its not a holiday.....we are there to learn and bring back things, iv spent months preparing and training for it and iv gone and come back, yet i am still finding myself lacking time!

Besides working a full time job, im working on my campaign......trying to collect data about plastic bags and having talks and meetings with different companies takes time as well! and don't forget training, sending proposals and contacting people yet again.

Ask anyone who has looked for sponsorship in Oman, you feel demeaned.........people who are responsible for the sponsorship treat you like you are begging them, while in reality....they get benefit as well.
Anyone who has done that will never want to do that again, yet my team knows that they will have to do this again...and again....and again.......the next team will be supported by us and will support the team after them.

Antarctica is a dream place for any environmentalist. Its difficult to get to, expensive and requires training and effort......

I know the new team will get the same objections, they will get the same 'glory hound' label....but before you tag us with that label, just find out what we are actually doing and why.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Keeping up with the time

When we were hunting for the next Freezing Omanis we had so many people ask us what it takes.
It wasn't an easy explanation....

The main thing that I got from the last expedition is time.....its not really that easy to keep a balance between your normal life and what you have to do to get to Antarctica, its one amazing journey but it takes a lot of work to get there!

You have your normal life where you study, work, socialize...but then you need to work on getting there and raising the funds, which is the hardest part. The expedition costs 11,000 OMR per person which means that you need to start talking to countless companies to try and get them to help you out.

Corporate sponsorship for such expeditions in Oman is relatively new so many people hesitate to even think about being involved, and other companies have policies that restrict them from sponsoring individuals (they can only sponsor established and registered organizations)

For me.....Antarctica was a priority, so I had to sacrifice any free time I had, which meant less time with family and friends, less time to relax and basically....work on something or the other 24/7
I thought that it was just me being a perfectionist, but now that im spending more time with the new Freezing Omanis I see that this is what it takes!

'Glacier' comes to our meetings looking like a zombie that hasn't slept in days!
'Seal' hasn't been able to spend as much time with his kids and he even stopped writing his book! (yes he is writing a book)
Even our energetic 'Blizzard' is caught between studies and the Freezing Omanis and missing enough family time :(

And me.....well, it feels like im back to logistics and planning just like last year! I remember just how it was stressing out about getting sponsors and not knowing where and what gear to get!

But I also remember how it is to read and watch everything about Antarctica just like these girls (and guy) are doing now! and I see how excited they are and how they tend to always start a sentence with "when were in Antarctica we will...."

But till they get there, its the hard part......now we look for they right people to partner up with! and I have high hopes that this time, people already know and support what these brilliant Freezing Omanis want to do!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

The New Freezing Ones

So when the Freezing Omanis started, it was never going to be just about our expedition.....we wanted to raise awareness about what we are doing, but also, we wanted to create a brand which if we had done it right would make it easier for other Omanis to live their Antarctic expedition.

It wasn't an easy journey, fundraising such a large amount was difficult....but it taught me a lot, which is why the Freezing Omanis is evolving. I have a vision....a group of young Omani environmentalists creating major campaigns and getting others to do so.

The Freezing Omanis have been selected, and what an amazing bunch! ill be there every step in their Antarctic dream.....

Who are they? shuuu that's the secret! they will remain a secret for a short while, what I can tell you though is that there are three of them, there is a father among the team and our very first female Freezing Omani, actually.....two of them!

Oh ok, fine.....here's a photo of the four of us!

So, here they are;Seal, Blizzard and Glacier (the fourth one would be me).....smart, dedicated and very fast learning!

They need help though, raising all that amount needs some seriously nice companies *hint hint* who believe in our cause, and we promise we will give anything we can in return! nice people are welcome too!! any amount helps or even a contact!

One thing I found equally just as important though is the kind words I got my way, so please do go on our page, comment on our blog and tell these next amazing people who are going to bring back so much to our country how amazing they are for just getting selected!


Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Stepping back into the ‘real life’

It’s been a couple of months since we have been back but there’s a unique feeling that we share with our expedition mates since we returned, it’s a strange feeling that our 10 day Antarctic expedition felt like it both lasted for years and seconds; it felt like we belonged there and that was the life that we belonged to. The experiences we had and the friends we made…we felt like we have known them for a long loooooong time!
But at the same time, it was too short! We were there for 10 days, but it passed like a flash! But there it was, now for the next part of our journey.

It’s been a busy couple of months since we came back, trying to set up a press conference / produce a video within days of us coming back meant no rest and we had to both step back into our jobs after a month of being away!

All the rush and business is good! It’s keeping us on our feet and motivated for the next steps!
Speaking of motivation…..we are seeing so many amazing people in our hunt for the next ‘Freezing Omanis’ and for those who have been interviewed by me (Bader), it’s amazing to see so much motivation and dedication!

The hunt for the next ‘Freezing Omanis’ is over and we have found our successors…..training has already started! And their names will be revealed soon!

Our story isn’t over yet though!
Our projects are soon going to be running and we will need help in planning, executing and making the projects actually count for something! Help make Oman stand out with ‘2041’! We want them to think of people who come from Oman as environmental superheros! Let’s give them the best campaigns they have ever had!

For those interested, Bader’s Campaign is “The reduction of plastic bags in Oman” and Ameer’s is “The promotion of energy conservation in Oman”……if you are interested in being a part of that; contact us!
We have also been trying to share our story with as many people as we can, and that’s where you can come in too! we are just two people J (our friends always help but it’s our responsibility).

If you want to hear our story in your school or office or wherever, get us in touch with the people who can help us arrange it and we are glad to do that! Even if you have a group of friends, try n gather them and we can do something! Don’t feel shy to get in touch!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Video - the full journey

It took us a few days to put this video together, a big thank you to our friends at Al Musafir Production.

Hope you enjoy it :)