UAE resident bids to become first female in history to row the Arctic Ocean


This July, three adventurers from the UAE will embark on an unprecedented 1,500km rowing expedition across the Arctic Ocean, making history with ‘The Arctic Challenge’. 

With no engine, motor, sail, or support boats, Toby Gregory, Orlagh Dempsey, and Andrew Savill will face brutal Arctic conditions to highlight environmental advocacy and gender equality.

The Arctic Ocean, a vital yet fragile ecosystem, offers unique opportunities to study climate dynamics, biodiversity, and ecosystem resilience. The team’s voyage will advance scientific understanding and drive sustainable solutions in one of the world's most remote and fragile eco-systems. 

"Our mission goes beyond endurance; we aim to ignite the imagination of a generation about a fragile but important part of our planet, which is at the forefront of climate change and the fight against plastic pollution - emphasizing the urgent need to protect our environment." Said Toby Gregory, Project Lead for The Arctic Challenge and Founder of The Plastic Pledge. “Orlagh will become the first female in history to row the open Arctic Ocean – showing that greatness knows no gender. We need to make equality the norm, not the exception.” 

Once completed, Orlagh Dempsey will become the first woman in history to row the Arctic Ocean. "The Arctic Challenge is more than an expedition; it's a beacon for gender equality," said Orlagh Dempsey, elite endurance athlete. "As the first woman to row open Arctic waters, I hope to inspire others to break barriers and pursue their dreams."

The specially designed vessel, 'Ocean Guardian,' symbolizes resilience and determination, being fully reliant on the crew's physical power and equipped with solar panels for essential navigation and a desalination machine which supplies the crew with the water they need to drink. The team will row non-stop from Tromsø, Norway, to Longyearbyen, Svalbard, following a rigorous schedule of two hours on, two hours off, for 20-25 days. Their journey will traverse the tumultuous 'Devil's Dancefloor' and the remote Arctic ice shelf, demanding unparalleled endurance and teamwork.

The Arctic Challenge is backed by a global community and aims to inspire action for environmental conservation. Over the past two years, the team, through The Plastic Pledge, has engaged with over 200,000 students across over sixty schools and universities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, with their message reaching audiences worldwide. They are aiming to inspire one million students to connect with the project.

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