Bader Al Lawati, a Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the University of Wollongong in Dubai is back in the desert sands following his successful expedition to the last great wilderness on earth.
The University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) was one of the sponsors of Bader’s two-week Antarctic expedition, which aimed to raise global awareness about climate change and its effect on local communities. Bader was half of a two-man team representing Oman, as part of a 30-strong Youth Ambassadors group. Following a gruelling training regime, the ‘Freezing Omanis’ as they have become known, set sail from Ushuaia on the southern tip of Argentina, passing through the roughest waterway in the world to land two days later on the Antarctic Peninsula.
“The only way I can encapsulate the experience is that it was a continual rush of adrenaline”, said Bader, who is now back in Oman working on the development of the environmental campaign that won him selection for the expedition. “Every day offered a unique experience, from leading the most difficult and dangerous trek the group undertook, to sleeping flat out on the ice and seeing Saturn and the Milky Way so vividly in the night’s sky.”
There were tough times too, Bader recalls, “The worst part of the experience was the extreme sleep deprivation, which grew throughout the expedition. We got up at 6am and had just 15 minutes to put on our six layers of clothes and prepare ourselves for the day ahead. After each trek, which was around seven kilometres, in extreme conditions, we would attend workshops and would rarely get to bed before 1am, only to be back up at six preparing for the next trek.”
The expedition was organised by 2041, an NGO that aims to raise awareness about environmental sustainable development. Throughout the adventure, each of the participants worked on developing their individual environmental campaigns and were mentored through seminars and workshops led by environmental and industry experts, including the Vice President of Shell International. With a major in Marketing from UOWD, Bader is now working as a media professional, and was himself asked to lead a workshop on communicating the environmental message.
Bader’s own campaign, to reduce the use of plastic bags in Oman, has gathered pace since his return from the Antarctic. He commented, “Our next step is to talk directly to the distributor, to demonstrate the sustainability aspect of our campaign. If we can reduce plastic bag use by 10%, it could bring a positive impact, not only for the environment, but for the outlets themselves in terms of reducing expenditure on the purchase and transportation of the bags.”
Following their momentous feats in the Antarctic, the Freezing Omanis returned home to news of another outstanding achievement. Bader revealed, “Our training for the expedition involved spending time in industrial freezers to acclimatise to the extreme cold. We wanted to put this time to good use and to find unique ways of sharing our message, so it was great to discover when we returned home that we had set world records for the coldest tweet and the most number of bloggers in a freezer.”
UOWD was one of a number of sponsors that supported Bader to purchase the specialist equipment that made his participation in the expedition possible.