Dubai: Sixteen iron-willed trekkers are on a mission to scale Mount Kilimanjaro - Africa’s highest free-standing mountain - for a noble cause, all while being filmed for a homegrown reality series.
Calling themselves the Kili Elite, the team consists of 15 men and a woman between the ages of 16 and 55 from different nationalities - Tanzianian, British, American and Pakistani - and backgrounds, according to a press release. The trek is inspired by the UAE government’s Year of Tolerance initiative by UAE President Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Their efforts will be filmed from start to finish, making it the very first reality series of its kind that will let UAE nationals follow the journey of their fellow residents trekking through the mountains. Talks are on with Netflix, National Geographic and Amazon Prime among others to broadcast the series.
“We are adapting the core values of respect, peace and tolerance from the Year of Tolerance as the impetus behind this expedition, seeing that we will need a lot of it to get through the climb,” says advertising and hospitality entrepreneur Ali Kassam, one of the members of the team.
“Being courteous, tolerant and patient is what makes Dubai one of the best cities in the world to live in and we consider ourselves very lucky,” he added.
Getting to the summit of Kilimanjaro is not for the faint-hearted. The permanently snow-capped peak towers at a staggering 5,895 metres above sea-level. Reaching the top is the equivalent of scaling the world’s tallest building - Burj Khalifa - a whopping seven times.
The team members, all of whom were born and raised in the UAE, are undergoing rigorous training to build their stamina and endurance to tackle the extreme weather conditions. They will have to endure daunting conditions like carrying up to 15kg of equipment each during their ascent, sleeping under canvas on bare mountain paths for eight consecutive nights and learning how to adjust mentally and physically to higher altitudes.
The team consists of Mustafa Rashid, Abbas Fazal, Shahed Hasan Ali, Ali Akbar, Fizza Mujtaba, Zuhair Mohammed, Abbas Kassam, Mohammed Mujtaba, Sheikh Arif, Mohammed Abdul Aziz, Irshad Sumar, Shamim Rashid Sumar, Maisam Afzal, Murtaza Mazhar, Ali Reza Kassam.
The expedition, planned for July 11-19, is being led by Abbas Fazal, who has scaled Mount Kilimanjaro four times in the past. He is also the director of the series and Ali Kassam is the producer.
“Being expats in the UAE has given us so many opportunities, which just shows that this country is truly the land of opportunity and underlines the message of tolerance, giving communities a chance to be able to co-exist in harmony and happiness,” he said.
As part of their mission to give back to the community, the group will head to Zanzibar upon their descent and visit the Islah Orphanage, taking the children on a picnic and making a donation to the institution.