The first Emirati to visit both the North and South Poles now wants to tackle Mount Everest.
Ali Sharaf, 39, recently got back from a trip to the base camp for the tallest mountain in the world, and says the lack of hospitals and schools in the villages near the mountain has motivated him to go back there again.
“When you see something that hits your heart, you want to do what you can to support it.
“I can do as much as I can, but I’m only one person,” Sharaf said.
He said if he has enough sponsors to support him in his endeavour to build more schools and hospitals in the region, he will set his sights on climbing the summit of Mount Everest. He hasn’t specified the amount in dirhams he plans to raise. Having returned from his 10-day trek in Nepal on May 10, Sharaf said reaching the mountain’s base camp, which is 5,364 metres above sea level, was a difficult challenge.
“The lack of oxygen, breathing was the biggest issue for me, especially at night. There were times where I stopped breathing for ten seconds while sleeping and then I would quickly wake up,” he said.
Getting to the base camp involved walking eight to 10 hours a day for six days. Sharaf says his love for thrill-seeking stems from his father, who would take the family to the Himalayas during the summer.
And he says that the love for adventure is beginning to catch on with other Emiratis.
“We’re slowly starting to take up these adventures. When I went back in 1999 to the North Pole, many Emiratis didn’t even know where the poles were.
“And now many Emiratis have been there,” he said.