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Princess Abeer's Antarctic Journey: A Royal Perspective on Climate Action and Unveiling the Frozen Wonders

Princess Abeer bint Saud bin Farhan Al-Saud, in a groundbreaking feat, recently embarked on a research journey to the Antarctic, marking the first such endeavor by an individual from Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region. In November, amidst stiff competition with 1,800 applicants from 45 nations, Princess Abeer was selected as one of the 80 participants for this expedition organized by Homeward Bound, an Australian initiative advancing women's leadership in STEMM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine). She expressed her motivation, stating, "My aim in joining this expedition was to spotlight climate action, environmental sustainability, and forging a harmonious relationship with nature and biodiversity."

The diverse cohort included astronomers, oceanographers, glaciologists, mathematicians, marine biologists, and renewable energy engineers. Collaborating on various projects, some aligned with the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, they fused science, art, and policy, drafting reports and preparing presentations for COP28 participation. Princess Abeer chairs the Sustainable Development Association (Talga), aligning UN Sustainable Development Goals with Vision 2030. With extensive expertise in international development, culture, peacekeeping, and NGO work across various UN agencies, she leads impactful initiatives.

Passionate about conservation and art, Princess Abeer blends her ancestral heritage with her experiences, drawing inspiration from the natural wonders of Saudi Arabia's vast desert. She embarked on her Antarctic journey, drawing parallels between her Bedouin roots and the navigational reliance on stars. Despite facing challenges during the voyage, including a storm in the treacherous Drake Passage, Princess Abeer marveled at nature's power and the resilience of the crew.

Upon arrival in Antarctica, she likened the experience to entering another realm, emphasizing the serene beauty and the profound impact of climate change observed firsthand, such as unprecedented rainfall and glacial melting. Despite the inhospitable conditions, Princess Abeer highlighted the importance of inner strength and camaraderie among participants.

Engaging in field research using Zodiac boats, the team studied climate change's effects on Antarctica's ecosystem, witnessing alarming phenomena like icebergs calving into the ocean and invasive species proliferating due to warming temperatures. Princess Abeer underscored the interconnectedness of global ecosystems and the urgent need for collective action to mitigate climate change's catastrophic effects.

Reflecting on encounters with diverse wildlife, including penguins and humpback whales, Princess Abeer stressed the importance of safeguarding polar habitats. She urged a holistic approach, emphasizing the global implications of Antarctic conservation efforts and the imperative for a harmonious coexistence with nature.

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