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Saudi Arabia: Mariam Bin Laden becomes first Arab woman to swim across Red Sea to Egypt

October 18, 2022 at 1:01 pm

Dr Mariam Saleh Bin Laden [mariamsalehbinladen/Instagram]

Saudi dentist and certified endurance swimmer, Dr Mariam Saleh Bin Laden, has made history this week by becoming the first Arab woman to swim across the Red Sea between Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

According to Scoop Empire, the Saudi swimmer completed the journey within four hours, crossing nine kilometres of open sea, despite the presence of sharks in the Red Sea. She reportedly used a device which would keep sharks at bay by three metres, although at one point the device is said to have malfunctioned.

Bin Laden was joined by British-South African endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh, who wanted to highlight the vulnerability of coral reefs ahead of the COP27 meeting that is due to take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, next month. The pair overcame warm sea temperatures, very salty water and long hours of sun exposure, reported the BBC.

“I wanted the coral swim to include swimmers from around the region. I invited Mariam to join me on the first section because she is a passionate humanitarian and has pioneered endurance swimming in Saudi Arabia,” Pugh said.

Last week after completing the journey, Pugh said Mariam became the first Arab, Saudi and woman to swim from the kingdom to Egypt.

Taking to Instagram, Mariam said: “I am very grateful to be the first Saudi, the first Arab and the first women to swim from Saudi Arabia to Egypt.. I never thought I would do this swim without a shark cage. But putting ourselves out of our comfort zones is what makes us stronger.”

“It’s always been a dream of mine to swim from Saudi Arabia to Egypt. Today I finally did it. I am so grateful to have been introduced to @lewis.pugh . When I heard about his plan to swim across the Red Sea, I had to take this opportunity to join him,” she added.

In 2016, Mariam became the first Saudi woman to swim across the English Channel, which she accomplished in 11 hours and 41 minutes. She took on the challenge as part of a series of endurance challenges to raise awareness of the plight of orphan children from Syria. Earlier that year she set a new world record as the first woman to officially swim 101 miles of the River Thames.

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