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Frostbite to the nose, two sprained ankles and damaged wrists…these were just some of the hardships that Mostafa Salameh endured as he attempted to travel 890 kilometres by foot and skis to reach the South Pole back in 2016. But challenge is the fuel that fires the soul of this Muslim man who was born a refugee to Palestinian parents and who spent his first 18 years in a Kuwaiti refugee camp.
We caught up with Mostafa to find out more about how he became one of the world’s most accomplished adventurers.
Born a refugee, I had no expedition experience, no money and no adventure contacts. I had a vision that my mission in life was to climb the world’s highest mountain and the audacity to approach the King of Jordan to help make that dream a reality.
My family spent 18 long years in a Kuwait refugee camp. During this period my father studied arduously in an effort to use the time positively. Eventually, we were granted citizenship to Jordan.
“I had a dream that I was on top of the world. Praying for peace.”
My entry into mountaineering wasn’t an obvious one. I had a dream that I was on top of the world. Praying for peace. The dream stayed with me and after doing some research, I realised my destination was Mount Everest. “
It was far from easy. I had a dream and I was committed to that goal. My car was sold along with many other possessions. With belief and a great faith I made the giant leap.
I have my fair share of world firsts. By 2016 I had climbed the 7 Summits, become the first Jordanian to scale Mount Everest and was the first Muslin to reach the South Pole.
“Some days were incredibly lonely and there is no contact with the outside world, no internet and nothing but vast swathes of ice and snow.”
The South Pole was the most difficult thing I ever did. I would say more difficult than Everest. I had to spend a full year learning to ski in preparation for the expedition so that I could drag his 190lb of supplies by sled across the snow and ice.
Some days were incredibly lonely and there is no contact with the outside world, no internet and nothing but vast swathes of ice and snow. But while there I was totally concentrated on the journey and I had to enjoy it day by day.
The journey took 54 days in total and 38 of those were spent on skis. For 13 days we were stuck in our tents due to a ferocious storm and had to wait patiently for the weather to improve.
I’ve learned to deal with setbacks. I carried The Qur’an with me and listened to my house music. I was blessed with great team-mates Sharom, Stew, and our guide Devon.
“I have three simple messages: the peaceful promotion of Islam, cancer awareness and to inspire others into the world of adventure.”
I was so motivated to finish as I was to become one of 12 people in the world to complete this grand slam. I am also the first Muslim on record to complete the journey. There was a pure joy in reaching my goal.
I try and use the recognition I’ve received in positive ways. I have three simple messages: the peaceful promotion of Islam, cancer awareness and to inspire others into the world of adventure.
“There are so many beautiful, kind people in the world and we need only step outside our comfort zone to find them.”
It is not the expeditions I remember but the people. There are so many beautiful, kind people in the world and we need only step outside our comfort zone to find them.
I use my newfound profile in Jordan as a springboard for positive change. I travel regularly in a bid to spread the message of peace and tolerance. We must tackle the narrow narrative of impoverished and angry youngsters. There is an onus on people like me to give something back.
Travelling to some of the most war-torn regions of the world, I want to tackle radicalisation. By relaying my experiences I hopes to broaden the horizons of disaffected young Muslims on the margins of society.
It’s such a big world out there. There is so much to witness and so many adventures to be had. We must tackle the narrow narrative of impoverished and angry youngsters. There is an onus on people like me to give something back. This is how I do it.
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