Interview with Mostafa Salameh: Islam, Palestine, Peace and the South Pole

The first Jordanian to attempt to ski to the South Pole.
(Correne Coetzer, updated with added question) Mostafa Salameh wants to be the first Jordanian to ski to the South Pole. More than that he wants to raise awareness about Islam, Palestine, Peace, and many humanitarian issues. “From this stems my motivation, I am doing it for 3 reason one for Islam, promoting the good picture of it as I consider this as my jihad, second for all the refugees around the world as I am a refugee myself when my parents had to leave Palestine to Jordan.”

Mostafa is part of ANI guide, Devon McDiarmid’s team. Other team mates are Steward Edge and Shahrom Abdullah. They will be skiing from the Ronne-Filchner Ice Shelf (Messner Route), 890km in a straight line.

Pythom caught up with Mostafa, who lives “between Dublin [Ireland], Jordan and Edinburgh [Scotland].”

PYTHOM: You are the first Jordanian to attempt a full route to the South Pole. Why would you say has this not been done by a Jordanian before? What is your motivation?

MOSTAFA: I will be the first Jordanian and the first Arab ever to do this route, also aiming to be the first Muslim. In Jordan people are not acquainted with this type of adventures, therefore no one before thought of doing this trip.

I consider myself a risk taker, and thus enjoy exploring new places and experiencing challenging adventures. I have completed the 7 summits (the only Jordanian so far), and skied the last degree of North Pole. Now my goal is to do the full ski of the South Pole. 

Moreover, these worldwide, multicultural trips are the best platforms for raising awareness about Islam, Palestine, Peace, and many humanitarian issues. From this stems my motivation, I am doing it for 3 reason one for Islam, promoting the good picture of it as I consider this as my jihad, second for all the refugees around the world as I am a refugee myself when my parents had to leave Palestine to Jordan. 

Also as Al Manaseer is my main sponsor; I am doing it for environment. We are not aware of the global warming in Jordan or Middle East and would like to send massage from there to raise awareness among people.

Also for peace in the Middle East, I have my autobiography coming out when I return in January, it’s called “Dreams of A Refugee – From the Middle East to Everest” published by Bloomsbury. It talks about peace as well as encouraging the youth to get involved in adventure to build their personalities, as the Middle East is new to this type of sport.

PYTHOM: As a Muslim you have to pray 5 times a day, ‘Salah’. How will you fit this in on the ice? How long does it take and at what times? [Added Q]

MOSTAFA: I will still do my 5 prayers a day. I can do it inside the tent if it’s windy and very cold outside. I always carry a very light Prayer Carpet with me. I will pray one in the morning when I get up. 2 when I arrive to camp and 2 before bed. Because I am travelling I can make the 2 prayers as one.

PYTHOM: Who was your mentor, or were your mentors, for this expedition? Three top tips you got?

MOSTAFA: I have a good experience in the mountain and high altitude; I went through intensive training with PolarExplorers last year for the [Last Degrees] North Pole. Moreover, I talked to Robert Swan last February when we both were speakers in Jordan and he gave me great advice.

But most of what I got this year was from Helen Turton, a great polar adventure guide; from the UK and work for the Polar company Newland. She helped me with my training and gear, it really gave me full confident that I have all the right gear. 

I tried to put some weight but I didn’t succeed to reach my goal. I was on Kilimanjaro guiding people there just two weeks ago; it was a good training as well. Also I was in South America, the Himalayas, and twice to Kilimanjaro this year, in addition to the last one. 

Three top tips:

Buying the right gear,

Doing the right training,

Prepare mentally: it is going to be a really long ski – around 60 days -. I need to be in a good shape, full of energy, eat will, and have stuff to keep me occupied such as books, and communication equipment.

PYTHOM: How did your training program look like?

MOSTAFA: It was combination of running, swimming, cycling, weight lifting and the most important part was sledging tiers behind me. This was done through the past 9 months. u2028

In addition to mountain climbing; in South America, the Himalayas and Africa.u2028

PYTHOM: Gear?u2028 

u2028Skis: Skis Åsnes Amundsenu2028

Skins (half/full): in using half skinu2028

Boots: Baffin bootsu2028

Clothes: I got different stuff from different brands 

My base layer from Mammoth.

Gloves from Mountain Equipment and mittens.

Sleeping bag and dawn jacket from Mountain Hardware. They thankfully supported me big time.

Shells from Bergien, I will be travelling to Norway with the help of Helen to pick them up, and off course all other stuff that I bought based on my previous experience and the best that works for me.  

Base Camp Dublin helped me in getting my equipment together.

PYTHOM: Anything else?

MOSTAFA: Lowest to Highest for Cancer initiative (LH4Cancer) we were able to raise $2 Million,

UNRWA Gaza schools – fundraising over 20000 JOD,

I guided the first Arab blind man to the top of Kilimanjaro this year in a very challenging and extraordinary adventure.

In 2017 am planning to guide four Jordanian women to be the first to summit Everest for women empowerment.

NEXT: Newland about organizing an expedition.

In the link below: Met Devon McDiarmid’s South Pole team

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