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 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 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 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,'s a photo of the four of us!

So, here they are;Seal, Blizzard and Glacier (the fourth one would be me), 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… 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 :)

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Day 7 - Sleep deprivation!

The first day we got on, Adrian Cross (Jumper) told us that we are going to be on a very tight schedule...that we should be ready to snap awake and run to the deck at any given point! We thought he was being dramatic...
He wasn't...

Our expedition is a mix of adventure and education...and with the programme being a short 10 days we have to cram EVERYTHING in that small time frame.  
Our days depend on what the amazing team at 2041 have conspired against us, but it always starts off with ‘Jumper’ on the PA telling us to wake up way too early and get ready way too fast to get on zodiacs or get on deck! We typically have 15-20 mins to wake up, get dressed and packed and off to teams to our meeting feels like were in the military.

We trek, we prepare our, and go to workshops under sleep deprivation!

Sleep deprivation is an interesting thing.  We talk to our team members, they ask us something and we reply...Then they ask again! :p

It’s hilarious when we all get together, we are all spaced out and exhausted...but still loving it!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Day 6 - crazy 24 hours!

We have had a very packed two days; more safety procedures to safeguard the team for the next two days. 
The safety procedures aimed at insuring natural readiness in case of a falling member as well as learning about hypothermia and hypothermia as well as basic first aids.
The theory was put into practice when the team did falling exercises and showed their rope and splinting work, and then we marched!

The trek was exciting with the occasional snowball fight but the team being roped together, there wasn't much room to get away!
Then there was the camping survival night!

The team dug their wind shelters in the snow and were left for the night to see the Aurora and the stars!
The next day was the return to the sea spirit and directly into workshops while they got to meditation point...
Tomorrow we will be spending a day on the continent preparing for the big march through the crevasse fields, we will also do the infamous polar plunge in sub zero waters!
Bader & Ameer :)

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Day 5 - Antarctica, here we are!

Today, six months after being selected for the 2041 Antarctic Youth Ambassador Programme, we have landed in Antarctica. Bader Al Lawati and Ameer Abdulhussain, the youngest Omani to reach Antarctica, landed in Mikkleson harbour on the Antarctic Peninsula.

The journey took us from Muscat to Brazil then to the city of Ushuaia in Argentina. In Argentina we climbed to the top of a glacier and trekked through the national forest with the other participants to prepare ourselves for the journey ahead.

On the 3rd of March, the ‘Sea Spirit’ left Ushuaia heading south to the Antarctic Peninsula. The journey took two days and took us through the roughest waterway in the world; ‘The Drake Passage’.

After two and a half days at sea (5th March), the Antarctic icebergs showed themselves shortly followed by land. Excited, the were on the second Zodiac heading to the historic Nickleson harbor to learn about the area and rest for a few hours before  listening to scientists and environmental specialists to develop their campaigns for when we come back to the Sultanate.

Tomorrow (the 6th) the ‘Sea Spirit’ will cross the Lemaire Channel and the Freezing Omanis will spend the night on the ice.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Day 4 - Getting into the 'Spirit'

Were heading on to the charter, it looks insanely large!! And it’s all kicking in...the real journey is starting and it’s really getting exciting. But at the same time our safety brief kinda made things real...the first thing your head Jumper (the safety officer of the expedition) says: “everything in Antarctica is out to kill you” then he went on to talking about the drake and about how 80% of us will get seasick...makes it a bit more nerving but exciting!

We got on to the ‘Sea Spirit’ and everything went exciting from then on!

We left land and said goodbye to land...we were waved goodbye by a Russian scientific vessel, they even blew their horns for us!

Now were hitting the drake, things are shaking and moving...Some things fell off the shelves...the shelves opening up by themselves!

We sat on the deck chair...Ameer took a video asking me (Bader) to describe what I was feeling in one word...if he gave me a page I still wouldn't have been able to... I've never seen the moon that big, or the stars so bright... I've never seen anything like this. No description will do it justice and no words I have in my vocabulary can tell you what this looks and feels like!

It’s also getting cold now, with heaters in the ship many of us are in half jackets and we have a day and a half till we hit Antarctica.

Tomorrow...we reach Antarctica, further than any of us would have been from home.

Also, we have a surprise for the Environment Society of Oman ;)

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Day 3 - Mt. Martial Glacier...and the snow?

Today we put our rope skills and our teamwork to practice...and what a day it was!

Getting up in the morning and seeing the team all there ready and excited just does something to you...the team spirit is something amazing, it gives you a different kind of energy!

The ride to the glacier was stunning, seeing the beagle channel behind us and snow ridden mountains up ahead is surreal, and then you get to the trek...this expedition has been a constant state of ‘it can’t get better,'s better’ and today hasn't been any different.

One of our favourite pass time activities is trekking, and it works when the team clicks and leadership is given and taken all around and that’s what this whole day was meant to prepare us to show leadership skills, develop the ability to step down and to help and assist each other through a challenging trek...being tied to 6 other people and walking in one pace is more challenging that it sounds!

You need patience and compromise, you need to constantly keep an eye on your team and help who you can...after all, you aren't trekking solo; you all are trekking as one.

Then we got to the top, the glacier was stunning and the view was amazing, but then we got our first contact with what we came to’s not cold as it used to be, we packed for colder temperatures. The snow is not as thick anymore, and it’s become shy and dropped back into the background.

Those who were hoping to have their first snowball fight got disappointed...but more seriously, these glaciers are what the people in Ushuaia use for water.

It’s one thing hearing/reading about an issue (as you are right now), it’s a totally different thing when you see it right in front of you.

You get much more motivated to do something...and being tied to a great passionate bunch of individuals just gives you more fuel!!

If a group of people from 28 different backgrounds can work together this well, a country so unified such as Oman could be the forefront of environmentalism

Bader & Ameer.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Day 2 - Eagle Eye & Safety Sweeper

This was a big day for the Freezing Omanis with an early start.

We had our first day of the program after the induction and the initial team building trek to the most southern point of the world. Today however the team got to attend great lectures by Robert Swan and Gareth Wood who are two of the three men who walked the South Pole in 1985.

There were many theories about developing environmental initiatives and community involvement, and then a final rope and safety exercise where the pair practiced tying their knots blindfolded to get ready for tomorrows big test manoeuvring crevasses to reach the Martial Glacier. Some photos to share with you:

We were given important positions within our team, Ameer was designated the Eagle eye (keeping track of all the team and coordinating), while Bader was designated as the safety sweeper (maintaining speed and keeping safety checks/first aid).

The trek will help the teams get into formation before they leave to Antarctica and make sure all gear and equipment is ready while they are in Antarctica.

Tomorrow the Sea Spirit will take us amongst 74 others from 28 different countries to the great white continent through the infamous Drake Passage, dubbed as “the roller-coaster without seatbelts”.

From the time the Sea Spirit leaves, the team will be tracked through GPS which can be followed by the blog:

Ameer and Bader

Video - our arrival in Ushuaia!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Day 1 - From Muscat to the 'End of the world'

We left to Argentina on the 26th, the flight path was to Dubai-Brazil, Argentina (Buenos Aires).

Total travel time was about 34 hours, exhausting!!!

After our flight to BA we slept in shifts so that we could take care of the bags and keep track of time.

Today we met some of the 30 that are going to be joining us. We got along very well while going through forests and mountains to reach our first stop.

The trek took 5 hours and we enjoyed the nature of the Argentinian Ushuaia national forest. It is just stunning!

We got to ‘the end of the world’ point which is the southernmost point in the world.

Tomorrow we will do a mountain safety session and after tomorrow we trek a mountain.

Here some you all J.

Bader and Ameer

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Tweeter In A Freezer

A quick and BIG THANK YOU to those beautiful people who, like us, are passionate about the environment and our country.

The world record is just a fun activity to raise awareness about several environmental issues we're facing, not only Oman but the entire world, as well as instigating some actions.

So thank you to this bunch of nice guys and girls (some of them not in the pic) who came in the freezer today as well as all those others who've been tweeting with us :)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A world record for a good cause

With the teaser out we have had many people asking us...World record?
Yup! Oman is a very bio diverse place with many environmental issues, and we need to highlight that! How? By doing extraordinary things!
We have gotten a few of Oman’s top bloggers and tweeps and  they will be writing about their own take on environmental issues…..and breaking two world records at the same time J. Oman Collective Intelligence also posted about the social media record, check it out.

The bloggers will come and join us in the Enhance freezer at -20 on Thursday 21st of February at 11am, and by doing that we would have broken the world record for ‘Most amount of bloggers in a freezer’ and ‘Coldest Tweet up’
“What we’re hoping to achieve with this world record attempt is to reach as many people possible by bringing together some of the biggest local internet celebrities and spread the word on environmental protection while not being experts ourselves, we have been blessed with the opportunity to not only deliver the message from experts in the Environment Society of Oman (ESO), but to also get Oman discussing and debating the local and global issues” – Ameer Abdulhussain (Penguin)
You can also help us out! By retweeting and joining in our tweet up you will raise the profile of environmental issues and be part of the (#TweeterInAFreezer) world record!
“Oman has a diverse ecosystem and thus has a diverse range of environmental issues, through our campaigns so far we have noticed that the youth is very interested in the environmental movement and there is no better sphere to get people involved than the social media world. This will give many people the opportunity to voice their eco concerns and get a positive discussion of change”  - Bader Al Lawati (snowflake)
We know what we are focusing on; we want to know what environmental issues mean to you!