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'We have reached the glass ceiling. It’s up to the next generation'

First Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest speaks about the changes taking place in her country

Gulf News

Dubai: Climbing Mount Everest is a challenge in itself but for Raha Moharrak it was more than just physical.

The 32-year-old Saudi national became the first Saudi woman and the youngest Arab to conquer the highest peak in 2013.

Speaking to Gulf News, she mentioned about how all aspects in this pursuit were difficult – from the physical training to the emotional hurdle of trying to convince her family of what she wanted to do.

“When I started climbing, my family tried to be understanding but they were also sceptical. I think they still don’t understand why I do this but they respect that it’s my choice and they respect that I am a little bit crazy in my passion to live a life full of adventure.”

Raha was one of the panelists at the ‘What She Said’ event hosted by the W hotel, a global speaker series featuring inspirational women from across the world. This was the first ‘What She Said’ event held in the UAE.

Looking at the sweeping changes taking over Saudi society recently, Raha felt that her country was at the brink of a new era.

“In general, you see changes that are very obvious but also – under the surface – you see a lot of changes in mentality. Back in the day, I don’t think I was very accepted. I was ignored a little and even criticised. But now I see fathers coming up to me asking me about how their daughters can become mountain climbers,” she said.

She felt like it would take the next generation of women in Saudi Arabia to truly shatter the glass ceiling.

“Me being here is because of every single woman who came before me who paved the way and broke the door down. And I hope the next generation are the ones that shatter the ceiling. My generation came close and made sure we reach the glass ceiling. It is up to the next generation to shatter it.”