Adventurous spirit of Titanic submarine explorer Hamish Harding inspires others

Missing UAE-based British billionaire said exploring showed him how people should work together

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From exploring the deepest point of the ocean to floating in microgravity at the edge of space, Hamish Harding has always been passionate about venturing into the unknown.

The billionaire, who turns 59 on Saturday, has called the UAE his home since 2008.

He went missing on Sunday on a submarine that was taking him and four other passengers to explore the wreck of the Titanic, in the North Atlantic.

Efforts continued yesterday to locate the missing submersible about 1,450km off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where the sea can be almost 4km deep, before oxygen supplies run out.

Mr Harding spoke to The National several times before his adventures, inspiring others with his positive outlook.

Before seeking to explore the floor of the ocean, he had sought to travel to the fringes of space.

When he returned, he said seeing Earth from his vantage point showed him the importance of people working together for the planet.

Last June, before launching on a Blue Origin space tourism flight, Mr Harding had said he was not feeling nervous.

This was even though such suborbital flights were relatively new – with only 20 people having made the journey.

“I haven't really had a chance to feel nervous yet and I've always wanted to do this. I've wanted to go into space all my life,” he said.

UAE resident to go to space on Blue Origin flight

Hamish Harding (second to right) with his fellow passengers on the upcoming NS-21 Blue Origin space tourism flight. Photo: Blue Origin

After landing back on Earth, Mr Harding said he already had the submarine trip lined up and was excited about exploring the Titanic.

The deep-sea voyage was meant to happen end of December but kept getting delayed, until Sunday, when he and four other explorers boarded the Titan submersible.

Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman are among the other passengers on the Titan.

Reports said French Navy pilot Paul-Henry Nargeolet and the boss of tour company OceanGate, Stockton Rush, are also on board.

Mr Harding had told The National that his family had grown accustomed to him seeking out adventure.

"My family's got pretty used to it. Every year I'll go off and do something a bit unusual, and so I don't think they worry too much," he said.

In 2021, he dived into the Mariana Trench in the Pacific, at almost 11km the deepest point on Earth.

Earlier, in 2019, he flew around the world on a record-breaking flight with Nasa astronaut Terry Virts.

Giles, one of his two sons, said after his father's Blue Origin spaceflight that he felt "proud but nervous" as the rocket carried him 106 km above the Earth.

He had watched the launch with his mother and brother Rory.

“There was pin-drop silence when the rocket was about to lift off,” he said.

“Everyone was on edge and as he went as he went up there, it was kind of a surreal moment.

“You could see at the bottom of the rocket that there was massive amount of smoke.

“I was very excited, but also obviously very nervous.”

Mr Harding had told The National a day after his space trip that he was now seeing the planet from a different perspective and hoped that people would get along more.

He had experienced the overview effect – often described by astronauts as a powerful shift in how a person views the planet and life.

“The Earth was what I was waiting to see and it was as spectacular as I'd been told,” he said.

“Looking down on the Earth, we should all work a lot better together.

“There is so much wasted effort on this planet by not working together. The world can move forward so much faster and more productively if we all did.”

Updated: June 22, 2023, 6:18 AM