UAE | Leisure

Three Arab climbers make history by conquering Everest

Cold was the biggest challenge on way to the summit, first Saudi female mountaineer to conquer Mount Everest says

  • By Noor Nazzal, Special to Gulf News
  • Published: 21:30 May 24, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: AFP
  • Saudi mountaineer Raha Moharrak celebrates on the summit of Mount Everest. Raha Moharrak reached the summit of Nepal’s Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, in a first for the kingdom where women’s sports are severely restricted.
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Dubai: A team of Arab climbers have logged one for the history books by becoming the first Qatari man, the first Palestinian man and the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world.

The climbers consisted of Qatari Shaikh Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al Thani, Saudi Raha Moharrak, Palestinian Raed Zidan and Iranian Masoud Mohammad, who are all part of a team called ‘Arabs with Altitude’.

The team went on the trip with the aim of becoming the first from their countries to climb Mount Everest as well as raise $1 million (Dh3.67 million) in funds for Reach Out to Asia’s educational projects in Nepal this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the first expedition to reach the summit of Everest.

First to arrive back to the Everest base camp was 27-year-old Raha who was waiting for the rest of her team to get back to camp.

“Standing on the top was hard to explain, it was a surreal feeling. My team and I arrived at the peak at the same time so we all celebrated together and took pictures with our countries’ flags. I was first back on camp but I insisted on waiting for them because they are my climbing buddies,” she said.

Her love for climbing started when she first climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in November 2011. Following that she climbed nine other peaks that include Aconcagua in Argentina.

Personal decision

“I got off base on Tuesday, I am surprised by all the media attention that I got from a personal decision to do something that is out of my comfort zone, something that challenges me and discovers my limit. I really don’t care that I am the first woman. I care that other Arabs get inspired to make the climb. I am 27 and I am the youngest Arab to climb Everest so I hope that others get inspired and come take the title.”
Asked what was the biggest challenge she faced, the adventurer said: “Cold, I have a low cold tolerance especially because I have been living in the Gulf.”

Raha, a former American University of Sharjah graduate and freelance art director who works between Dubai and Saudi Arabia, said that her parents were at first hesitant about her decision.

“When I first told my father he thought I should go to a psychiatrist. However, after I explained to him he agreed and he was even my sponsor. He does not understand why I want to do this but he does understand my need to be adventurous. He is now very excited and proud of my achievement.”

It took Raha around three months to reach the peak and although she has no certain plans she said: “This is definitely not going to be the last time I climb.”

Al Thani updated his Twitter account stating that he had safely arrived at the South Col Centre with his team. According to a source at the base camp he and his ‘Arabs with Altitude’ team were expected to arrive at Kathmandu last evening.

Al Thani is also an AUS graduate and is part of the Qatari ruling family. He is currently working as the Director-General at Sharjah Statistics Centre.

Palestinian Zidan, who works in real estate and owns Zidan Management Group, is also expected to arrive along with 32-year-old Mohammad who lives in Dubai and owns a healthy ice cream franchise in Dubai.

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