The team, aptly named Team Zayed, to mark the Year of Zayed, is part of the Climate Force International Antarctic Expedition that is currently on board the Ocean Endeavour for two weeks. Along with teams from over 20 countries, they are learning about climate change and witnessing first-hand the impact of global warming on the continent. The expedition is being led by Sir Robert Swan, the first explorer to walk to the North and South poles, and ended on March 12th, 2018.
Braving the freezing conditions and in an act of gratitude to the visionary leadership of the country for their environmental stewardship, Team Zayed wrote, in solar lights, the names of the late Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The team also wrote the names of notable inspirational personalities in the UAE, namely H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Emirates Red Crescent, the 27-year old serviceman who was recently given a hero’s welcome home after being injured in Yemen during the UAE’s effort to combat Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.
"Alongside other passionate environmentalists from around the world on this international expedition, we wanted to come together and also send a unified message in solar lights from Antarctica, a message of change. Global warming and plastics are the environmental challenges of our time – as a global community we need to stop, think, and act to come together and change our unsustainable lifestyles," said Mariam Al Qassimi, Communications Specialist at EAD and a member of Team Zayed.
"We used 100 solar panels, purchased from a company that won the Zayed Future Energy Prize in 2015 and in a symbolic display of unity, we stood side by side with 20 other nationalities and sent a message to the world. The message was: ‘Hi World - from Antarctica. Please listen: climate change and plastics are our challenge. Let’s change. All of us. Individuals and countries. Stop. Think. Act. Energise. Be the Change. #ClimateForce,’ said Rashed Al Zaabi, Scientist in Mammology, at EAD and a member of Team Zayed.
Winston Cowie, Marine Policy Manager at EAD, and a member of Team Zayed, said, "As we lit up the Antarctic night, one of our colleagues on the expedition, Inch Chua from Singapore, a talented musician, sang our message in the Antarctic night. We could hear whales surfacing as we sung, in union. It was one of those incredible unforgettable moments when time stood still."
Sir Robert Swan said, "Team Zayed has done a wonderful job in bringing everybody together for the Zayed Solar Lights Show in this display of unity and in this message of action. I am proud of all of them and we are grateful to EAD and in particular to Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD Secretary-General, for sending the team here to the Antarctic. We are all ClimateForce Ambassadors, and we hope this message that we have sent to the world results in action – the time for the inconvenient truth is over, the time for the convenient solution is here."
Following the Zayed Solar Lights Show, Team Zayed gifted each of the 100 solar lights to their colleagues on the voyage – all of whom pledged their commitment to take the solar light and make it burn bright with an environmental or community initiative in their respective countries – a celebration of the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed and his environmental stewardship.
"These special lights that lit up the Antarctic sky will now travel to all parts of the world, igniting change and action," said Cowie. "Given the depth of talented and passionate people on the Ocean Endeavour, we are excited to see the initiatives that will become a reality as a result."
Team Zayed crossed the treacherous Drake Passage from the Antarctic Peninsula, en route back to the UAE after a life-changing mission for all of them.