Guest column: Saeed Al Memari on aiming high, digging deep and following his passion

Daredevil Saeed Al Memari shares the highs and lows of mountain climbing and scuba diving.

Saeed Al Memari. Razan Alzayani / The National
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I was born in Fujairah and behind my house was the mountain, so every day we climbed the mountain. I didn’t care too much about it when I was younger. Then, I started competing in other activities – I was on the UAE national team for boxing and tae kwon do. I tried many sports: kung fu, swimming, running, a lot of things. I received many gold medals, but I didn’t think that it was a big achievement. It was like, today I have this medal, tomorrow another guy will have it.

But with Mount Everest it was different. The first time I saw it, I decided to climb it. I searched for information on climbing and mountains. I didn’t see many Arabs interested in that field so I thought, let’s try this one. Mount Everest was my first mountain and when I climbed it for the first time, I felt like it was my home. I didn’t have the problems many other climbers have, like altitude sickness and feeling the cold. It was easy for me, and even though I live at sea level in temperatures that reach above 50°C, it didn’t have much of an effect on me.

I started with the world’s tallest mountain and it was easy for me, so I thought, what’s the next level? I heard about the Seven Summits (the highest mountain on each of the seven continents), so I climbed them all. Then, after that, I heard about the Explorers Grand Slam (the Seven Summits plus the North and South Poles), so I completed that recently.

I am always trying to find something special, exclusive places. I went to the biggest cave in the world, the deepest cave in the world, the most beautiful cave, many many caves. Then to celebrate our 43rd UAE National Day I did my longest dive trip from Fujairah to Abu Dhabi. It took nine days, diving every day for 10 to 12 hours continuously and changing the oxygen tanks under the water. There had been many scuba diving records – usually to the deepest points – but nobody had set a scuba diving distance record. It was the first time someone had done this one. We’ve applied for recognition through Guinness World Records and we’re now waiting for the certificate.

My new plan is to support and promote peace around the world. By 2020, our plan is to climb the highest mountain in 203 countries around the world. With the help of the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Award for World Peace, I want to spread the message: “Peace with love and friendship from the UAE”. My plan is to climb the highest peak in every country and afterwards talk about peace. I know people have tried to climb the highest peak in every country, but no one has completed it.

With the UAE’s good relationship with other countries and the support of the UAE, I will be able to do this. Our plan is to start from New Year 2016 and finish by 2020.

I never stop training for my adventures. Every weekend I hike and climb in the mountains and I hope to make other people interested in hiking too. To fuel my body, I eat mostly our traditional food – the food I was raised on. I start my day with dates and honey, which are nutritious and packed with energy. Eating in moderation and exercising daily helps me stay healthy.

It takes about two months to climb Mount Everest and we have to be mentally and physically fit to reach our goal. Every time you climb, you learn something new and you keep learning. I climb with people from all over the world, and each time I take something new from the experience.

My message to other people is to never stop dreaming. Everything is possible if we only have the zeal to achieve the impossible.