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I have lived in the Middle East (Saudia Arabia and Egypt) for 30 years now. In both countries I have witnessed and been a victim of sexual harassment. One of my earliest memories is of, going to the Mall in Saudi Arabia with my family for an outing and I would be holding either my mother or my father’s hand and Saudi men would try to pinch my behind or try and pinch me in other inappropriate places. At the time I didn’t understand why they would want to do that, I still don’t know what it is about  10 year old girls that would turn on a man. I begged my father to buy me an Abbaya (long black cloak that women wear in KSA to cover themselves up). He fought me tooth and nail and opposed the thought of his daughters having to cover up at such a young age, but when the situation was explained to him, he gave in and willingly bought it. It’s odd how a black cover would act as a protective shield against unwarranted and wanted attention.

When my family and I moved to Egypt in the early 90s, shortly after the first Gulf War, I experienced different kinds of harassment and on different levels. I remember going for walks with my younger sister and mother (who is blond and blue eyed), and constantly being harassed. The men would walk up to her confidently and ask her “how much?” or offer her “1 pound” for her services. The fact that she was married with children didn’t faze them in the least bit! (What high morals they have and great examples of  ‘Good Muslim Men’-NOT). If that wasn’t enough, some men would be a bit sneakier in their approach and try to follow us home to find out where we lived. Luckily we were very observant and would notice their predator tracking behavior and go in to a shop, where we would know the shop keeper and tell him that someone was following us. He, his sons and employees would come to our aid and go out and ‘greet’ the prowler with heavy slaps on the back and rough him up a bit. Other men in the neighborhood would then join in and descend upon the poor guy like a pack of wolves encircling their prey.

As I grew older and matured, the same would happen to me. I would be very conscience of what I would go out wearing in public. I would check and double check that I was conservatively dressed and wouldn’t attract unwanted attention, (Shoulders covered, check! Cleavage covered, Check! Shirt or t-shirt  is below  waist length, Check!) I became paranoid! (I still am to some extent)

The funny thing about that is, it wouldn’t matter how much clothing I wore I would still get harassed by men in the street. I have had cat calls some very flattering but mostly very degrading! I have been groped, grabbed, pinched, rubbed against, followed on foot, followed in cars by men of all ages (including those who are meant to serve and protect us), pushed up against a wall where a guy tried to smother me with his lips and have had someone jump in to my car window and try and put his hands all over me. I have also ( I think everyone has had) the crank callers, the heavy breathers and the ones who are gutsy enough to describe their dirties fantasies on the phone too.  I have so many stories and instances that the list just goes on and  to this day, it still continues to grow…

The instances mentioned above are mine, but I know of many other situations that have happened to people I know. Can you imagine coming out of a building and having a guy push you back in against the iron gates of the elevator and ejaculating on you?! Now tell me that she asked for that, when all she wanted to do was get to her car and go back to the safety of her home.

After an attack like that, you feel dirty and violated. You just want to cry a river and cleanse yourself, but not matter how much soap you use or scrubbing, you can’t get rid of that feeling. It takes a lot of talking, time and support from people who care to get over something like that.

I am tired of having to torture myself by replaying the events back in my mind, action for action wondering and question if I wore something that provoked the attack or if it was my body language, did I look the person in the eye and did they take that as an invitation?  I constantly wonder if I did something to provoke them. Every time, the answer is the same, ‘NO’. If you are going to debate the matter with me and tell me it’s because I’m not veiled then, please stop reading and continue your web browsing elsewhere. Don’t you dare insult my intelligence and say that the reason it happens is because my hair isn’t covered! Don’t! The truth is even women who are veiled are subjected to the same kind of harassment, if not worse!

When are people going to stop being in denial and face the facts?!

We don’t enjoy it and we certainly don’t provoke it! So, if it isn’t us, then hmmm…. I wonder who might be the problem. Whose brain might need to be rewired?

Why is it that (those kind of) men think it’s o.k. to treat women with such disrespect? We aren’t sexual objects or rubbing posts. That isn’t why we were put on the planet. I know that Islam is all about treating women with dignity and respect. So,  can someone please tell me where are they learning this form of behavior? Why have the women been quiet about this for so long?

Last year Community Times dedicated a page every month to sexual harassment and I was one of the contributors. I took the step to come forward because I wanted other women to have courage to speak up and know that they are not alone!

Before the revolution an Egyptian an Arabic movie 678 came out and hit the cinemas across the country. It’s whole purpose was to shed light on sexual harassment in Egypt and how even when you tried to report the incident at a police station women were be belittled or made to feel that they were the reason behind the act. In my opinion it was a powerful movie with a strong message. I hope women here and in the region will answer to the call and stand up for their human rights and take a stand against sexual harassment and bring an end to the tolerance and the acts.

I still think twice about what I’m wearing before walking out the door to go somewhere, but when I am out. I will not allow anyone to touch my body. It is my temple and I will defend it. I will not allow them to turn me in to a defeated or whimpering victim.

I am against sexual harassment and you should be too!

Monday 6th of February 2011

I am so excited! I am finally going to see my family. I have been thinking of every possible way to get to them ever since my friend was evacuated. The railway lines have stopped working and the roads out of Cairo had been closed too. The airport is over crowded with people trying to leave the country and there’s a strong possibility that their aren’t any flights.

I had done most of my packing last night but there are still a few items that I need to put in the put in the bag, but I have to wait for Meeza to wake up.

I am feeling very torn. I have formed a close bond with my host, (No….that’s not right), my surrogate family and I don’t want to leave them. I have enjoyed my time here with them, gotten to know them more and feel like I’m apart of the family. I dread to think what state I would be in, if I hadn’t come to stay with them and decided to tough it out on my own. Without their company, I’m sure I would have reached some level of insanity. Becs family will always have a special place in my heart for opening their home to me.

Bec’s Mum insists that I share breakfast with her. I’m not really hungry and I have been working exceptionally hard at reaching a target weight for my sister’s wedding in April, (Operation Megan Fox). I know it’s a silly thing to be worrying about in times like these, but God willing if all goes well, her wedding will proceed as scheduled and I won’t hate myself for not looking my best and being fit for the special occasion. So, I am adamant that I am going to remain focused on eating lots of fruits and vegetables, grilled meats and drink an excessive amount of water, Revolution or not! (would this make me stubborn or very determined?)

At around 11am my father arrives, I am so glad to see him. I waste no time in embracing him at the door and kissing his cheeks. I notice that he looks tired but a wave of relief washes over his face when he sees me. My father and I don’t see eye to ey very often and with us being stubborn and control freaks, we often but heads and clash, but with that put a side, he is my Dad, I love him to pieces and I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see him.

My Dad comes in to the house for no longer than twenty minutes. We can’t delay our departure due to heavy traffic caused by blocked off roads and protests. We also have to be back in Alexandria before curfew time. My Dad thanks Bec’s parents and as a small gesture of my families appreciation and gratitude for all they have done for me he gives them a bottle of Whiskey and a big box of sweet dates. I in turn hug both Bec’s parents and thank them and promise to come and see them as soon as I am back and settled again.

As soon as we are in the car we have to make a stop at my house to pay the landlord the rent and so that I can drop some unwanted items and collect more clothes (who knows how long the current situation is going to last).

As we approach my street, which is a big military area, I notice a crowd of twenty or more people near the Military Hotel, Triumph. I wonder what they are all doing sitting around staring at the Military compound’s huge metal gates. My father must have caught my gaze or read my mind and informs me that the people are waiting to see their loved ones that had been recaptured by neighborhood watch and military me as they were trying to loot the nearby areas. Upon hearing this slightly disturbing piece of information, I couldn’t help but feel relieved that I had followed my instincts and made the decision to go and stay with Bec’s and his family. The thought of having the escapees that have been causing fear and havoc in the city held across the street from my building, was not in the least bit comforting.

As soon as the car came to a halt, I waste no time in going in to my building and up to my apartment to leave an un-needed bag and gather some other belongings. I am whirling around the place like the Tazmanian Devil from the famous Warner Brother’s Cartoons. I am trying to be as quick as possible so that the echos of the last night spent in the apartment don’t come back to me. The feeling of being in my flat is an odd one. It is familiar and yet alien at the same time. ‘I hope to see you again soon’ I say to it before I close the door and lock it before taking the elevator back down to rejoin my father and the hired driver to head back to Alexandria.

During the drive out of the city my father ask me questions about the safety situation in Heliopolis, the sight of the barbed wires across the street and the tanks pointing outwards to wards the road. He tells me of events and situations that have taken place in Alexandria. That with in the first two days after the prisoners escaped from prison, the people guarding our street caught fourteen ‘baltageya’ (thugs/looters). He told me that other areas of Alexandria are experiencing much worse and that I know for a fact. My friend Shamel has been calling me daily telling me about his nightly watch and the amount of firing and killing that had been going on. Although I am living it, hearing it and experiencing it, my mind still has a difficult time accepting and believing that this is happening to us here in Egypt. It just boggles my mind! How did things spiral out of control so quickly? What lies ahead for all of us? Is it going to get worse? Will things ever get better? It is hard to tell…

At the Cairo toll gate leading to the desert road armored vehicles stand guard with their guns pointed at the center of the road. By the wayside, stolen, crashed and torched cars had been confiscated ownerless as you pass by the toll gate. For the past week we have been hearing horror stories of people’s cars being run off the road, cars being hijacked, robberies, rapes and killings along the desert road. On all the occasions I have driven back and forth on this road, I have never been so alert and watchful of every movement, car and person.

To stop at a rest house to use the toilet, gas up or buy something to eat is too risky and dangerous. Some of the escaped convicts are still on the loose and nobody wants to take any chances. The busy rest stops are empty, which is a strange sight because they are usually bursting at the seams with business, but now only the gas stations have clients. My father told me that he had stopped at one of the gas stations on the way and when he entered to building the owner was sat with a machine gun and bullets across his chest, the smell of freshly baked fiteer was absent in the air and the bustling of the waiters bringing the customers no longer existed.

We finally reach Alexandria after a two and a half hour drive, the security at the toll gate is more intense that the Cairo toll gate. There are more cars and the traffic is worse. Getting to the city is difficult, there is a hold up of some kind. We find out that the congestion is caused by a bus accident and large puddles of water.

As we pass by Carrefour City Center (a big shopping complex) there dozens of confiscated stolen cars parked on the side as you pass the shopping area. There are huge tanks and armoured vehicles positioned there too.

After two weeks of wanting to be with my family and a two and a half hour drive, I am finally home. I take my bags out of the car, get in to the elevator and press the button. The ride up seems to take longer than usual. “Hurry up!! I want to hug my Mum and sister!” As I finally reach my floor, I can see my mother’s silhouette through the glass with her arms spread wide ready to embrace me as I step out. I yank out the bags and drop them at her feet and just squeeze her tightly, while breathing in her motherly scent. There is nothing as warm or comforting as a mother’s embrace.

As I walk over the threshold of the apartment, my sister comes to greet me in the foyer of the apartment and we hug.  It is so good to be home and with family. They look well but tired from all the stress and constant worrying about their safety, the state of the country and me. At least now, they have one less thing to worry about. I am here, safe and sound with them.

We retire to the sitting room and talk for hours while pausing mid conversation every so often to hear the latest news up dates.

By 9pm I can no longer keep my yes open and got to bed.

I am home at last.

It has been almost a month since I last posted something on my blog. It isn’t due to lack of interest or something to say…it’s due to over saturation of events past and present that are preventing me from expressing myself clearly. I have tried to sit down many times to continue typing up and posting my Diary entries during the 18 days of the revolution, but reliving it whilst still going through the post revolution events was getting to be too much for my mind and my emotions to handle. To add to the turmoil neighboring countries to Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Bahrain …etc are going through similar if not worse circumstances and to relive the past with the present became too much for me to cope with.

Messages from Family members, friends and readers whom have been reading the entries and following me on twitter have encouraged me to keep writing and posting. They say that my entries paint a clear picture for them from a person who is actually living in the country. So, I will try to work through the daily distractions of current events here and in the neighboring countries to get my story written and posted.

God Bless

Have you ever had a childhood dream of wanting to do or become something?
I had many career ambitions when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a WWF wrestler because I was a Tom boy and I liked the idea of being to lift someone high above my head and throwing them (very lady like!), It then changed to wanting to join the Navy Seals because I really liked their combat boots and defense tactics (but mainly for the boots), then I wanted to be a teacher for the deaf after seeing a movie where people taught children to sign, from there I decided that I would much prefer to be a lawyer so that I could argue my point all day long and get paid for it and then I wanted to be a child psychologist because they charged a lot of money by the hour while helping disturbed children. I didn’t join the World Wrestling Federation or the Navy Seals to my father’s relief. I ended up being an Elementary School teacher and a Writer, neither of which were on my dream job list as a child. I can’t complain, I really enjoy what I do and I do it well, (I’m not trying to blow my own trumpet).

My Father on the other hand, did fulfill his childhood dream of understanding how aero planes functioned and how to fly them. After studying and obtaining a degree in Mechanical Engineering like his Mother wanted, he furthered his studies in Aerodynamics and Fluid Mechanics and even went a step further and obtained his flying license as a commercial pilot. The only thing he didn’t get to do was fly for an airline. He had applied to work for one, but the head of the airline at the time said the only way he would ever fly for that company was if he paid him 10,000 pounds. My father being a man of integrity refused to cough up the money. He wanted to earn his job the right way.

Over the years my Dad taught ground school at a flying school in Montreal, lectured in Saudi Arabia and taught his students Engineering, how to build wind tunnels, aerodynamics and even took them for a ride in a plane as their pilot. His students always learned a lot from him; perhaps it’s because he’s so passionate about aircrafts and is like an excited little boy playing with a toy. If there is a movie, program or a news report related to airplanes, he will focus all his attention on what is being said.

Last year, my Dad taught ground school at one of the flying Academies in Amman, Jordan.  I went to visit him during the Easter break and on Friday we went to Carrefour to have lunch together, to my amazement a big group of his students go there every Friday too and they all sit together, have lunch and talk about flying. As I ate and observed I could tell that these young men had great respect for their teacher and felt at ease in his company. They were really upset that he didn’t stay on a second year and put their allowance together to buy him a model airplane as a farewell gift.
His colleagues were sad to see him go as well. They have kept in touch and have recommended him to other flying academies in the region.

Their recommendations didn’t go unheard, because now, My Dad is a consultant for two of the Flying Academies in Amman, Jordan and a Student recruiter for the flying schools in Amman and one in Montreal, Canada. I don’t think they could have asked for a better representative, because he has the passion for flying and can answer almost any question related to planes and engines. I’m not saying that because he’s my Dad, I’m saying it on the basis of being a teacher myself. I know what it takes to get students to be interested in a subject and to love it as much as you do.

As a kid my Dad would take my Mum, sister and I to they flying club in Montreal, and we would go up in a small four seated, propeller jet engine. He would teach my sister and I how to use the controls and fly the plane. I was useless! My parents had trained me ever since I was a baby to fall asleep on planes, (especially during long Trans Atlantic flights) so just minutes after getting clearance from the tower, and taking off. I would be fast asleep. My younger sister was a natural! Much to my father’s delight!
When my Dad is up in the sky in a plane, he is in his element. It’s almost as though he was meant to be up there.

If you have dreamed of being a pilot or going in to the field of aviation and you live in Egypt. Check out Captain Nabil El Abdin’s web page on facebook. Get in touch with him and he can tell you how to apply to the flying Academies in Jordan or in Montreal, Canada.

It’s never too late to fulfill your childhood dream.

Arabs climbing mountains? seriously? I am VERY serious. For those of you who have followed my blogs you know that I’m following 8 Middle Eastern mountaineers who are climbing the seven summits to show the Arab world that unity is possible. Kheiry Sammakieh who is one of the mountaineers and is representing Lebanon is a friend of mine. I have followed their quest since he messaged me about it. As soon as I get an up date from his brother or other members of the team I post it on my blog.
About a week ago I got a message on facebook from Kheiry’s brother informing the followers of SeVen.
The webisodes that can be watched on are of excellent quality, the pictures are clear and the sound is fantastic. The webisodes are short takes of  episodes that are scheduled to air on a network at a later time and date. The webisodes tease you because they only give you a glimpse of what is going on during the teams quest, it does give the viewers and the fans a good idea of what these brave and ambitious climbers have to endure. Before the adventure even begins these climbers have a bit of a problem, 2 of the climbers are already at the refuge on the mountain and need to conserve their energy so they won’t make it down to the starting point to meet the four climbers that have arrived (1 representing Iraq, 2 women representing Jordan and 1 representing the nation of Morocco). The remaining two climbers who complete the team were stuck in London due to flight cancellations caused by weather. If that isn’t enough the team themselves hit a rough patch of weather on their climb too. You have to watch the webisodes to see for yourself. 
Below is the message from Plan A’s director and Kheiry’s brother, Amin;
“This is to inform you that “seVen” Webisode 4 is now online, you can view it in the video section of the “seVen” group or alternatively you can visit our website and access all our media from there on youtube and myspace.

Please keep the support coming, invite all your friends and family to join. Remember, this is not an ordinary group, we promise to keep you entertained with more activities and updates all they way until the pilot episode “seVen” is ready.

Stay tuned for more Webisodes and Updates …Coming soon.

The “seVen” Team”

Kheiry and his brother Amin are doing an amazing job at keeping their supporters and fans up to date with the latest developments of the up and coming reality TV series that will follow the expedition of 7 mountaineers attempting to climb Mount Everest. The team of climbers recently shot their pilot for their series in Morocco. Below is the latest up date the group members of SeVen received from Kheiry.
Coming live to you from the Toubkal Refuge at 3200m!

Yesterday Omar Samra (Climbing for Egypt) landed in Marrakech from Cairo after an overnight stay in Casablanca.

We spent the day catching up with seVen’s director, Elia Saikaly and our assistant director Matt Delaney on production, coordinating what plans we had for the next few days. We had a lot of fun fooling around with our summit flags making sure its all in order for when the rest of our team arrives. I can’t believe this is finally happening, one and a half years of non-stop round the clock planning! We’re finally here, the adventure has begun.

As we headed up the road in a very questionable vehicle we passed village after village, one of which had an awesome looking market! We decided to take a look! We met some lovely market people trying to sell us all kinds of things, from Berber cloaks to silver bangles, to paintings. What do we walk out with? A bag of shrivelled up dried dates, and a bag of nuts. Oh joy.

So the purpose today, was to get ahead of the main team on a reconnaissance mission of the mountain. We are with a full production crew so things are very different to what we are used to!! Cameras, sound, mics, tripods and a whole other plethora of equipment I won’t even dare to pronounce!

Our Moroccan comrad, Nacer Ibn Abdeldjalil, is now with us here at the lodge after a speedy, ‘non-production laden’ crew ascent of the trail. He made it up in 3hrs! That is nothing compared to our 8.5hrs! Speedy Gonzalez!

In any case, we are all very happy we got all the beauty shots on the mountain we needed, and will not have time to shoot with the entire climbing team once they arrive!

There is a lot less snow on the mountain this year, making the path to the summit a lot icier this time round. There has been rain.. Lots of it. Rain + Snow = Ice = Fun! we will evaluate our options in the morning in the hope to scout out the best locations possible to make this pilot fly.

But right now, we are nice and cosy, huddled up by the fire here in our wonderful home away from home, thinking of all of you, grateful, for all the wonderful support you have all given us since and prior to our launch. We are proud to be here, and we will NOT let you down.

Team, we’re waiting for you- everything’s set and we’re ready to roll 🙂

Lots of love and peace from 3200m on Toubkal.

Climbing for the Republic of Lebanon




An Extraordinary Gentleman.

By; Nadia. M. El Abdin.

Published in the November 2009 issue of (in)sight Mag.

With the earth’s population growing at an exponential rate and with billions of people living on the planet you would expect to find more than just a few good men.

Let’s face it the men of our grandparent’s and great grandparent’s generation are becoming few and far between. Men who are well educated, multilingual, interested as well as fascinated and curious about the world they live in, men who hold a steady job, who have more than just materialistic interests and like to help others because they can, are becoming rare to find. Every full moon or so, you might be lucky enough to meet the acquaintance of one, although they are becoming more extinct with each passing generation, they do still exist.

A little over a year a go I was introduced to a man like that but at the time, I had no idea, what a gem of a person he really was up until very recently.

I met Kheiry Sammakieh, at a school friends wedding. I found him to be quite charming, intellectual and funny but I had no idea that there was more to him than meets the eye. Kheiry an investment banker, was born, raised and educated in London to Lebanese parents. This extraordinary man along with his fellow team members goes out of his way and challenges himself to raise money for a fundraising group called Lebanon United with generous donations from corporate sponsors to help provide a better future for Lebanon. How does he do it? He climbs mountains.

 When did you first start climbing?

I’ve been climbing for three years. I first started climbing when I decided to do a charity climb up Mount Kilimanjaro to raise funds & awareness for school children across Lebanon. This project in particular was to raise enough funds to improve
the hygiene and water facilities of 30 schools across the country, literally, almost covering the entire geography of Lebanon.

How do you train to climb a mountain like Kilimanjaro?
The best way to train for a mountain like Kilimanjaro is to do lots of trekking. Luckily, living in London, you are only a few hours away from Wales & Scotland which are the perfect training ground for this kind of
challenge. The first trek and climb I completed was Ben Nevis in Scotland, the highest point in the United Kingdom. I have been completely addicted to climbing since then.

 What was it about climbing that first appealed to you?

I suppose it is very symbolic in many ways. It is the perfect example of how if you put your mind to it you can achieve anything. You can clearly apply most if not all fundamentals in climbing to life. If you
work hard, you will be rewarded… but not always, very much aligned with life, there is always an element of luck involved. In mountaineering you can train your whole life for a climb, but if the weather’s not on your side, it’s all over. That’s what I love about it. It’s just like life.

Do you have to be in good physical shape to climb?

That’s a big question. It varies from mountain to mountain. Some demand a lot more fitness than others. It’s as much a mental as a physical challenge but generally, the better shape you are in the more you’ll be
able to enjoy the experience.

How hard was/is it to train?

Again, each mountain commands a different training program. You have to be determined. It is as hard as you make it for yourself, the fitter and more prepared you are the more you can enjoy the experience. Think about
it. If you aren’t fit, you are going to struggle to keep up the pace, struggling makes it unsafe for you and your rope team. So not only are you letting yourself down, but you are unnecessarily endangering the situation.

What goes through your mind when you are climbing?

I zone out. Living in a big city drives your brain crazy. You need to give it a rest every now and again otherwise the consequences can be dire. It’s the best holiday I could ever ask for. Everybody has their own
way of switching off, for me its climbing.

What feeling (if any) comes over you when your reach the top?

Preparing for a big climb takes months of hard work, staying positive and in some cases a lot of arduous planning. You train so hard mentally and physically, you visualize yourself achieving the goal. When it
actually happens, it feels like you have finally crossed the finish line something you’ve worked so hard at for months and in some cases an entire year. So you’ve got a whole index of emotions running wildly through your mind; relief, happiness, proudness and exhaustion. I try not
to cry but it always happens and I always regret it because my tears freeze from the cold and it’s very painful!

What goals have you set for your in regards to climbing?

To continue to raise funds and awareness for children’s charities working through climbing. There are a lot of under privileged children out there with very little cause for hope in their lives. I want them to
see that life is like climbing a huge mountain and that if you stay positive and set your mind to it you can achieve anything.

How did you get the idea to combine fund raising and climbing?

Since the shocking events of the war in Lebanon in 2006, I have been a very active fundraiser for local and International charities that work with Lebanon. I had been fundraising through sports tournaments, social
events, music concerts and even card tournaments! In the UK it’s very common to raise funds through physical challenges like marathons and triathlons. So, I thought why not? Only this time we went big! We were able to raise a lot more awareness through corporate sponsorship. So far we have been involved in raising $3.375 million USD.

What does the money go towards?

It has always gone towards children’s charities in Lebanon. Children are the future of the country. Our funds specifically impact the lives of children in school and members of loyal communities by improving health
and education standards. The infrastructure we have access to have a massive impact on the local community as it also creates much needed jobs. By improving standards, creating jobs and raising much needed the funded projects will provide a healthy platform off of which the
community’s future will be brighter.

What is your goal in regards to fund raising?

I want to grow my team because at the moment its very ad hoc. Whenever a climb or project comes up I get different volunteers for it. Id really like to see more individual teams climbing for Lebanon and I am always very excited about any other countries in the Middle East doing similar initiatives. I’m always ready to lend a hand in the name of charity especially when combining it with sporting events.

What other interests do you have other than climbing?

I love to travel and to write. Climbing has taken me to some very remote regions in the world and there is this infinite learning curve about people & cultures that I am totally passionate about. I love writing about these experiences as a medium of expressing myself.

What does your family think of your climbing expeditions?

Hahaha they hate that I climb! Bless them, they worry about the climbs but ultimately I think they are proud of what we are achieving.

How do you know Omar Samra?

I met Omar Samra through the incredibly small Arab climbing community. I initially met him at one of his Everest presentations- he is a real figure of inspiration for would-be climbers like myself and a very positive
person to speak to and watch present. We were actually one week apart on Mount Elbrus in the Russian Caucasus on the border with Georgia- sadly I didn’t get to climb with him on that occasion but we ended up doing an
ascent of Mt Toubkal in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco together. It was a fantastic climb and great to do it in unison. There is very little Arab unity as it is and we felt very proud to team up as Lebanon and Egypt as well as out good friend Nacer from Morocco and show the
world that we can work together.

Sent to the Jordanian Ministry Of Tourism By a Reader. 

Dear Jordan,

I can’t begin to thank you enough for having me stay during the spring break holiday.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel to many countries around the globe. This was by far one of the most enjoyable and memorable trips I have ever been on. I was a bit apprehensive in coming because this was the first trip where I had traveled solo without the company of my family. Not long after my arrival my fears of awkwardness and foreigners evaporated when I began interacting with your country men and women. They put me at ease and made me feel that I was welcome and at home.

The first thing that grabbed my attention is the pride your people have, not only in who they are but for the country in which they live in.  You can see and sense their pride in the way they keep their streets clean, they way the abide by the law of the land and the traffic and especially in the way that your people greet and speak politely with their own kin’s men and the visitors that come to tour your land rich in our world’s history. Their words were so warm and friendly you couldn’t help but be put at ease. I wish other nationals from other countries would be as gracious and speak to their own and to others that way. Perhaps then, there wouldn’t be so much animosity and negativity boiling beneath the surface of their skin.

Your landscapes from the south to the north were not only diverse but mystifying as well as breathtaking. The desert of Wadi Rum with its multi coloured sand, tranquil silence and natural beauty was rejuvenating for my ears, eyes but mostly my mind.

Your Hidden City of Petra had me standing motionless, open-mouthed gaping in aw and marveling at its architectural genius and complexity. It has won my vote for ‘The New Seventh Wonder of The World’ and anyone who disputes it needs to have their eyes checked and an MRI scan.

Your castles in Karak and Ajlun were educational as well as fascinating. My imagination was left to wonder at what their grounds may have looked like back in their prime. As I walked in the court yards, passage ways and tunnels I strained to hear the voices from the past. Walking where Salah El Din, one of the Middle East’s greatest hero and warriors had once been was enough to satisfy my curiosity.

Mount Nebo was perhaps one of the most over whelming places I have been to. The only other place where I was over come with such a powerful over flow of emotion was The World War II (British) Cemetery in Al Alamain, in Egypt. The religious and historical significance of the place brings people from all over the world and the moment that they stand over looking the view that Moses saw many years ago, just for a brief moment I could feel time stop, guards drop, prejudices forgotten and ‘we’ as human beings were all equal.   

Jordan you may not be one of the wealthiest countries on the planet but you certainly are one of the richest when it comes to history and cultural heritage. You have so much to be proud of and I want to thank you for sharing your treasures with me.

Though my time in your country was short, I took a piece of it with me. Upon my departure I left with a song in my heart, a smile upon my face and vow to return again to your majestic land again some day.

 With best wishes for a prosperous and happy future

Nadia. M.N El Abdin