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UAE Volunteer announced as the youngest member of Airbnb's Antarctic Sabbatical
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UAE Volunteer announced as the youngest member of Airbnb's Antarctic Sabbatical

UAE resident Rasha El Saleh, a passionate environmentalist, has been selected from tens of thousands of applicants to travel to Earth’s most remote continent on a first-of-its-kind scientific research mission spearheaded by Airbnb and Ocean Conservancy.  The worldwide competition open to UAE residents through Airbnb, the global travel marketplace, has chosen the 25-year-old for a 4-week sabbatical where she will take part in scientific research in the Antarctic. 

Rasha, who currently works for Connect With Nature in Dubai, a youth conservation movement run by Emirates Nature-WWF and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, was chosen by the selection panel at Airbnb by showcasing her true calling for environmental protection. She was selected over more than 140,000 other applicants from over 200 countries around the world and is the youngest person out of the five volunteers. 

“I feel that everything that I have worked for: my passion, my commitment, my efforts have all come together to prepare me for this once-in-a-life opportunity, to be able to make an even bigger change. Our planet depends on me; it depends on every single one of us.” said Rasha El Saleh.

The five adventurers have a diverse range of backgrounds, but they all possess a deep commitment to environmental conservation and a shared belief that the Sabbatical will impact their lives long after it concludes. The goal of the Antarctic Sabbatical is to bring greater awareness to humans’ impact on the climate in one of the world’s least understood and most isolated ecosystems.

On the month-long expedition in December, the citizen scientists will collect snow samples and study the extent to which microplastics have made their way to the interior of Antarctica. By understanding the impact of plastic pollution in such a remote location, it is hoped that the five volunteers will deliver insights on how we can help protect the Antarctic and the wider world.

“This is an incredible opportunity for the five volunteers who all bring their own experiences and perspectives to the project. Collaboration is a fundamental part of solving environmental problems and, through first-hand experience, I know that they will be inspired to share what they have learnt when they return home. I was overwhelmed with the level of interest and quality of applications, and I’m really excited for our message and expedition to be shared by our volunteers on this global platform with Airbnb and Ocean Conservancy.” - Antarctic Scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams.

About Airbnb
Airbnb is one of the world’s largest marketplaces for unique, authentic places to stay and things to do, offering over 7 million accommodations and 40,000 handcrafted activities, all powered by local hosts. An economic empowerment engine, Airbnb has helped millions of hospitality entrepreneurs monetize their spaces and their passions while keeping the financial benefits of tourism in their own communities. With more than half a billion guest arrivals to date, and accessible in 62 languages across 191 countries and regions, Airbnb promotes people-to-people connection, community and trust around the world.

About Ocean Conservancy
Ocean Conservancy is working to protect the ocean from today’s greatest global challenges. Together with their partners, they create science-based solutions for a healthy ocean and the wildlife and communities that depend on it.

About Antarctic Scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams
Antarctic Scientist Kirstie Jones-Williams specializes in investigating the impact of microplastics on polar marine zooplankton. She is earning her PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Exeter in the UK, funded by the NERC GW4+ DTP training program. 


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