Maryam Al Joaan is set to become the first Kuwaiti girl to reach Antarctica

July 18, 2010

Maryam Al Joaan - Kuwait Times

Maryam Al Joaan is set to become the first Kuwaiti girl to reach Antarctica after she was selected as a representative of Kuwait Science Club for the Canadian expedition ‘Students on Ice’ bound for Antarctica in February 2011.

It is a journey that will be a unique educational opportunity, Maryam told a Kuwaiti daily.

“Antarctica is a place of extremes where we can witness an isolated ecosystem and realize how fragile planet Earth is,” she told Kuwait Times. “We owe Earth the responsibility to protect it. Therefore, I believe strongly in protecting our environment. I decided to choose ‘Protect Earth, Go Blue!’ as my motto of this expedition. I want to inspire and motivate young Kuwaitis to change their behaviour towards protecting the environment, especially the ocean,” said Maryam.

The expedition will take about two weeks depending on the weather conditions and it will take off from Argentina on February 12, 2011.

“I will publish an online journal about the expedition on,” she said.

Apart from being a member of Kuwait Science Club at the Department of Astronomy & Space Sciences, where she worked on space education and public outreach programs, currently Maryam is pursuing a major in Earth and Space Sciences in a university in Bremen, Germany. She is also working as an intern at the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy in Brussels, Belgium.

According to Maryam, seeing climate change effects in Antarctica will increase her knowledge and understanding of her interests.

“I therefore applied directly to ‘Students on Ice’. It is a ship-based expedition that offers prospective students the opportunity to enroll in one of several University-level field courses, and experience one of the most exceptional places on Earth,” she said, quoted by the Kuwaiti daily.

The organization selects participants based on an eligibility criterion such as interests in Antarctica and in the environment, strong academics, leadership qualities, active involvement in the community and a wish to make a difference.

“I have previously taken part in various oceanographic and geological field excursions to locations such as the Ries impact crater, Gastlosen and Harz Mountains, Helgoland Island, and the North Sea. Probably the closest experience I can relate to this Antarctic expedition is my excursion to the North Sea where I was part of the research vessel “Heincke” under supervision of the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI),” Maryam said.

At the end of August, she will be heading off to the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences at Tjärnö, Sweden, where she will practice more on using the basic oceanographic in-situ measurements, data collection techniques, analysis and interpretation of obtained data.

“On ‘Students on Ice’, students will make frequent field trips to the Antarctic mainland via Zodiac inflatables from the main ship. These landings will be supplemented by lectures, seminars and lab exercises in dedicated space aboard the expedition vessel, the M/V Ushuaia,” she said.

“Each student should enroll in one of the university courses that are offered on the ship. I intend to take the ‘Antarctica and the Earth System’ which is a field-based course that will cross the Southern Ocean from Ushuaia to the Antarctic Peninsula, and visit multiple landing sites. My course projects will involve oceanographic sampling, and shore- based work,” she said.

Around 70 University students and 20 university faculty, scientists, experts, and educators will be part of the expedition.

Both “Students on Ice” and “Kuwait Science Club” are nonprofit organizations and Maryam’s next step is to look for funding to cover the expedition and travel fees, and special clothing for extreme cold environment such as Antarctica.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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