Nabs Al Busaidi talks about his adventures and his new book
Time Out Bahrain staff
Tell us about your visit to the North Pole? I walked to the magnetic North Pole in April 2009. I had a friend from the army who did the exact same trek in 2007, and he got me interested in the idea by saying it doesn’t matter what record you hold – fastest, strongest, biggest – someone will always beat you… unless you are first! I now always try to be first at everything.
How does it feel to have your name go down in history? It feels great. Every time I go home to Oman, random strangers will come and say hello and thank me for doing something that made them feel proud.
Did you have to prepare your body in any special way? We all spent a week acclimatising in the Arctic, but I probably should have spent another week on top of that living out in the elements. The more we spent exposed to the change in temperature, the better we were able to cope. We also put on as much weight as possible to try and develop layers of insulating fat. In that one area, I was ahead of the others!
What kind of equipment did you have to take with you? We took very little equipment, because we had to carry it all. We had specialist clothing and shoes, and gloves and hats etc, but we also had pulks (a type of sled) that we dragged behind us with our equipment inside – we took tents, sleeping mats, sleeping bags, camping stoves, solar panels and electronic equipment for our communications, and to film for a documentary.
What does it feel like to walk across the magnetic North Pole? Can you describe it? I used to think it was the hardest thing I have ever done, with a type of pain that is hard to describe, unless you have suffered -81°C… but after rowing across the Atlantic, I would rather walk to a pole than row another ocean.
What about your journey there – did you start in Bahrain? I suppose you could say that, but I flew to London, and then to Canada. Only when we got to Resolute Bay did the expedition really start.
And now you have a book out of photographs – what kind of things can we see in it? We’re imagining lots of snow. [Laughs] Yes, lots of snow and ice, but also lots of pictures that describe the conditions and the task much better than a million words could. I had initially thought of writing a book, but it is so much easier to understand alien concepts when you see a photo.
Do you like to push yourself? I do. I like to see if I can achieve goals, I like to prove that I can do the seemingly impossible, and I like to prove my doubters wrong.However, the main reason for going to the North Pole was to be the first Arab to walk there and to raise money for charity.
How has life been in the two years since you have returned? Life is exceptionally interesting and varied. I am constantly on the go, meeting people I would never have had anything to do with, and doing things I would never have done if it hadn’t been for the expedition. I was interviewed by Miss Italy on Italian state TV, I met the Bahraini Crown Prince, and I made a documentary… so it is certainly not dull, and a lot more comfortable.
Are you getting ideas for your next adventure? I have no plans yet, but the South Pole is an idea, and going back to Everest one day…
Will you be touring for the launch of the book? The book was launched in Oman on April 28, just before the premiere of the documentary, so Bahrain is the second stop. I lived in Bahrain for 12 years on and off, and I am from Oman, so these are my main markets. The Arab Who Took on the Arctic is available in Jashanmal stores.