By Ghazanfar Ali Khan
RIYADH, 12 June 2008 — “Farouk Saad Hamad Al-Zuman, the first Saudi to leave his footprints on Earth’s highest summit, is the real hero of this great nation with exceptional courage and conviction,” said Prince Sultan ibn Salman, secretary-general of the General Commission of Tourism and Antiquities (GCTA), while congratulating him yesterday.
Al-Zuman, 30, made history on May 21, when he unfurled the Saudi flag on Mount Everest with the Qur’an in his hand.
Addressing a crowded press conference at the Disabled Children’s Society (DCS) hall, Prince Sultan, who is also the chairman of the DCS’ board of trustees, said, “We can’t understand the courage of this man, who climbed the highest peak.”
Prince Sultan, who has the distinction to be the first Arab and Muslim astronaut to go into space, also presented Al-Zuman a gift.
The press conference was attended by Bandar ibn Osman Al-Saleh, member of the DCS board of trustees, Awad Al-Ghamdi, DCS secretary-general, Sultan Al-Bazie, chief executive officer of Attariq Communications, and Abdulmohsen Al-Yahya, general manager of Kudu fast food chain. Attariq Communications and Kudu were the main sponsors of Al-Zuman’s expedition.
After the conference, Al-Zuman, a PR strategist and graduate of Oregon State University who works for Attaiq Communications, toured DCS facilities and met children there.
In a message to Al-Zuman, the children said, “Sir, you have challenged and conquered the highest mountain and we have challenged our disabilities and learned to live with it.”
Al-Zuman said, “Every person has a summit in his life to climb and conquer, for which we all should exert efforts. And efforts never go in vain.” He added that he was snow-blinded for two days during his expedition, while another team member from Oman lost his senses. “I faced all dangers, including avalanches, crevasses, ferocious winds, sudden storms and biting temperatures,” he said.
“I faced oxygen deprivation in the death zone, which is above 25,000 feet. The air there holds only a third as much oxygen as there is at sea level, heightening the chances of hypothermia, frostbite, high-altitude pulmonary edema (when the lungs fatally fill with fluid) and high-altitude cerebral edema (when the oxygen-starved brain swells up). But thanks to Allah I succeeded in bringing glory to my country, Saudi Arabia,” said Al-Zuman.
“Even when breathing with bottled oxygen, we experienced extreme fatigue, impaired judgment and coordination, headaches, nausea, double vision, and sometimes hallucinations of different types... It is all difficult to explain,” he said.
“But, I was never in double mind and I always hoped that Allah would shower His special blessings on me,” he added.
Asked about how he felt reaching the top of Mount Everest, he said, “It was amazing, you can imagine how great a feeling it must be to climb Mount Everest. I can only imagine what it must feel like to stand on top of such an awesome mountain... My success also symbolizes the courage and conviction of Saudi and Muslim youths, who can contribute a lot to the contemporary world in all domains.
Source: Arab News