Omar Samra is the first Egyptian to climb Mount Everest. He is in the process of climbing the 7-Summits, the highest mountain on every continent. He is also an acclaimed motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of adventure travel company Wild Guanabana.
I was actually in Argentina when the protests kicked off. I was on a solo climb of Mount Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America from the 20th of January. By the time I’d heard what was happening, it was the 28th and the revolution was well on its way. I was only three days away from reaching the summit and it was around the time the internet and mobile phone service was cut in Egypt. It was emotionally tiring because I couldn’t get through to any of my family to check up on them. I managed to find someone with a satellite modem, and it was only through international news websites that I knew the extent of what was going on for the previous three days. I was excited that this was happening, even though I hadn’t really grasped the reality of it. I considered going back and abandoning my climb – the mountain would always be there after all. But I decided to finish what I started but with a renewed resolve. Suddenly the adventure had more meaning. I wrote “Egypt for its People” on the Egyptian flag I was carrying and planted it at the summit on February 1st.
I arrived in Cairo on February 6th and from everything I could see around me, I was convinced Egypt had taken a huge step. I noticed a complete and utter change. I do a lot of motivational speaking, and I’ve been to a lot of government schools and universities. What used to strike me was the lack of self-esteem and confidence in the young population. The country I came back to wasn’t like that at all. People have a renewed confidence, knowing they can actually take a hold of their own fate. The rediscovered sense of pride was amazing to see. This was a movement of the people. No one knew from the beginning just how big and powerful it would be. When I came back after my climb, I jumped at the chance to play an active role in making these changes happen.
When you went to Tahrir Square, it was almost a utopia. The sense of warmth and organisation there is something we thought we’d never see. People were cleaning the streets, urban planners were getting together to redesign the square, and everyone was working together to make sure everyone is safe and secure. I’ve never seen anything like it. The people who were in power never realised the Egyptian people could conduct something so civilised. That’s why there were so many efforts to taint it and for years they led us to believe we weren’t capable of it.
Democracy could never be beyond people who pulled off a revolution this organised and peaceful. We’ve proven the regime wrong, and it’s one of the biggest victories. We have faith in ourselves because we’ve seen the microcosm of a potential Egypt in Tahrir Square. Even without a police force, we came together to ensure that Egypt was safe.
We now have a blank sheet of paper on which to begin writing our own future. There are obviously some question marks, but I’m optimistic. It means that we can achieve whatever we want to achieve. We’re strong in spirit and because of the peaceful nature of the process we don’t need to rebuild any infrastructure. It’s a matter of overhauling the system and if we carry on applying the same energy of the January 25th movement, we can propel forward.
I want to thank the people who were so committed to the cause. They represented and magnified our voice as they camped out for weeks in Tahrir Square. They are the people who made it happen.