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Mon 13 Jul 2009 12:27 PM

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North Pole adventurer set to run across Oman

EXCLUSIVE: Nabil Al-Busaidi announces 1,400km mission to inspire young Arabs.

Nabil Al-Busaidi, the first Arab to walk to the magnetic North Pole, is set to become the first Arab to run across Oman, Arabian Business can reveal.

The 39-year-old Omani, who entered the record books in April after completing a 24-day trek across the Arctic, plans to run from Salalah to Muscat in November, in a bid to inspire young Arabs.

To mirror his arctic expedition, Al-Busaidi will take 24 days to cover the 1,400km, and intends to arrive in Muscat on November 18, or National Day.

The Bahrain-based explorer hopes this feat, closer to home, will chime with the region’s youth.

“So the aim is to inspire the idea of a work ethic, of a challenge,” he said.

“The North Pole doesn’t really mean anything to people; it’s hard to imagine the distance and the cold. With Salalah to Muscat, people know the distance and the heat, they get it. And I’ll be running through the towns, so it would really reach locals.”

A second aim is to help counter negative images of Arabs in the western press, something he describes as a “huge problem”.

“It’s what is constantly pumped through the western media – you never hear the word ‘Islamic’ without it being followed by ‘organisation’ or ‘terrorist’. And people in the west have that association,” he said.

“More Muslims, more Arabs need to make headlines for the right reasons. I don’t think we’re doing enough to help ourselves – we need to invest more time and effort in our PR.”

Al-Busaidi, who is currently looking for sponsors for his Oman trip, will also attempt to qualify for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver later this year.

‘Nabs’ shot to fame in April, when he took part in the biennal Polar Race, as a member of Team Oman. The gruelling trek covered more than 350 miles in temperatures as low as -81C, dragging 50kg of equipment. Al Busaidi lost 10k during the journey.

“Before, during and in the middle of the trip, I was just thinking; ‘I don’t want to do this; I hate the outdoors, I hate the cold, I hate camping,’” he said.

“But it didn’t matter how many negatives I had in my head, being the first Arab [to reach the magnetic North Pole] outweighed everything else, even when it was terrible.”

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