tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Omani adventurer might be the first Arab to reach the North Pole

Omani adventurer Nabil al-Buseidi will participate in the biannual Polar Challenge next April and will attempt to be the first Arab to set foot on the (magnetic) North Pole.

Al-Buseidi is apparently known more commonly by his nickname "Nabs" - except in Germany, where he claims the media (rather glibly, we gather) dubbed him "der Sultan Auf Schnee," or the Sultan of Snow, for his combination of biathlon prowess and Arabness.

The 700-kilometre Polar Challenge begins at Resolute Bay on the mainland of Nunavut, where challengers acclimatize to the Arctic by skiing 105km to the official starting line on Little Cornwallis Island. The formal race then runs in 4 stages over Bathurst Island, across the frozen Northwest Passage to King Christian Island, and then over more iced sea to the Magnetic North Pole at 78° 35.7'N by 104° 11.9'W, or just off the coast of Ellesmere Island. The finish line is at an airstrip near Issachen Mine.

Competitors may travel by foot or ski, facing challenges involving constant sub-zero temperatures and roving polar bears. (The Polar Challenge's FAQ page highlights the degree of difficulty facing the adventurers.) The record time, from the 2003 race - the first held - is 10 days, 9 hours and 45 minutes. In 2007, a total of 6 teams comprising 15 people completed the challenge.

Nabs the Omani and his fellow competitors will set off next April. Stay tuned.

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