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Standing on Africa's roof thrice not enough

10/02/2009 10:49 PM

Dubai: An Emirati corporate manager has scaled one of the world's tallest mountains for a third time.

Ali Dawood, Senior Vice-President for the Africa region at Economic Zones World, conquered Mount Kilimanjaro during the recent Eid holidays.

The 45-year-old crossed rain forests and tough terrain before reaching Uhuru Peak at dawn on September 23. He also reached the summit of Kilimanjaro in 1999 aged 35 and in 2002 aged 38.

Ali said: "Last year I suffered a serious injury when I ruptured my Achilles while playing squash. I had an operation and my doctor told me to not to take part in any strenuous activity; I put on 15kg in one year. Once I got the green signal to train again I decided I needed a big goal such as Kilimanjaro to aim for.

"It's just a different thing to do. When you are fit you constantly want to do something more than just running and cycling; it's human nature. To be honest Kilimanjaro is a relatively easy mountain to climb. On my first attempt it took me four days to get up and back down again.

"It took me three days to accomplish the same feat in 2002 and a fortnight ago I reached the summit in just two and a half days. For most people, climbing Kilimanjaro is an eight day trip. My ultimate wish is to set a record by reaching Uhuru Peak within 24 hours and I won't rest until I achieve it."

One of Ali's closest friends is Dubai-based adventurer Adrian Hayes, who recently became the fastest person in history to reach the 'three poles' of the Earth - walking the entire way to the North and South Poles and scaling Mount Everest. The pair regularly train together and Ali cites Hayes as one of his greatest inspirations.

He said: "Adrian and I have been running and cycling together for years. I have quite a lot of friends who have conquered Everest and I would love to follow in their footsteps; it is already in my diary. But first of all I want to scale Kilimanjaro again and I want as many of my colleagues as possible to get involved."

Mount Kilimanjaro is located in northeast Tanzania and is the highest peak in Africa. Uhuru Peak, on the Kibo cone, is Kilimanjaro's summit at an altitude of 5,681 metres.

Ali, who played squash for the UAE national team in 1999, added: "This time I was better prepared for the challenge. I am much fitter now than when I first climbed Kilimanjaro a decade ago. Back then I had relative youth on my side but this time round I had to train much harder.

"Over the last month or so I have been climbing the 35 floors of stairs at my office 10 times as well as walking regularly to gain endurance. If I don't exercise every day I can't get to sleep. My late father always used to say I was a like a donkey in that I couldn't sleep unless I was physically exhausted; I just have to release the adrenaline from my body every day.

"I'm finding it really difficult to adjust being stuck behind a desk in the office again. I need to keep moving and I need another challenge to focus on. Perhaps next year, I will bring my wife and two children to climb Kilimanjaro. My latest success is proof that anyone can do it [Kilimanjaro] to restore body and spirit," he said.

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