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Sep 08, 2018
The youngest Emirati to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is aged 14

Seif Saleh Alshunnar recently beat his brother Ali’s current record the youngest Emirati to climb Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, at only 14 years of age. Alshunnar’s older two brothers had respectively held the title in turn, with Moawiyah Saleh Alshunnar at age 15 and a half and Ali Saleh Alshunnar at age 15 and 1 month.

A freshman (Grade 9) at Jumeira Baccalaureate School (JBS) in Dubai, Seif has always taken an interest in a variety of sports and high-endurance activities such as tennis, football, basketball, horse riding, and Tang Soo Do (a Korean martial art), in which he became a black belt at age 12.

While part of the reason for making this trek at such a young age was out of pure friendly brother rivalry, Alshunnar also had another motivator.

“2018 is the Year of Zayed, and I wanted to complete the challenge this year. Our leaders in the UAE always encourage us to push boundaries and to be the best. It is our duty to always do great things for them and for our country,” said Alshunnar.

Alshunnar also took the opportunity of his then-attempt to highlight the work of Little Wings Foundation (supported by the Al Jalila Foundation) which does charitable work with children in wartorn countries and jurisdictions worldwide.

With these motives in mind, Alshunnar set off on his expedition with his father, hiking several thousand metres each day for many hours per day and camping in tents for six nights. They reached the summit, Uhuru Peak, on 27 June 2018.

“It is amazing how many different environments you encounter on the route, from a very pleasant climate and forest environment at the base of the mountain to extremely cold ice-covered terrain with low levels of oxygen. This, of course, made the last few days particularly difficult and tiring,” he said of his trip.

Alshunnar then highlighted that his biggest pride and joy was to hold the UAE flag at the highest point in Africa.

“This was certainly a life-changing experience and conjured up a mix of feelings and emotions from pain and exhaustion to joy and elation. The thoughts that go through your mind during the hours of walking are incredible making the journey itself the most memorable part of the whole experience.

“You learn to conquer pain and tiredness by controlling one’s mind. Although I trained heavily for this expedition, it is as much overcoming mental challenges as it is physical,” he added.

Standing at 5,895 metres above sea level, Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
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