Lately Business Buzz interviewed Raed Zidan, the first Palestinian man to climb Mt. Everest. Then we interviewed Omar Samra, the first Egyptian and youngest Arab to climb Mt. Everest. Saving the best for last, we were able to get in touch with Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi woman to climb Mt. Everest. Raha started her mountain climbing addiction at age 25.
“How many mountains did you climb before Everest?”
“Over how many years?”
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Raha Moharrak is a 28 year old Saudi from Jeddah, with a Visual Communications degree from the American University of Sharjah. She currently resides in Dubai where she does her Masters and is a freelance graphic designer. “Two or three years ago I decided to do something new; a challenge. I started with Kilimanjaro. That mountain nearly killed me. I didn’t know what I was doing. I pushed myself way more than I should. For the first and last time in my life, I experienced what it means to push yourself beyond your limits.”
What inspired you to climb Mt. Everest?
“I’ve always been very curious and very adventurous. My parents always called me fearless because I never found a limit. I always pushed and pushed. I did everything from scuba diving, to sky diving, to shark diving; basically anything extreme. At some point I will bungee jump. My parents always encouraged me.
When I started climbing, I never thought I would do the 7 summits. My adventure became a 7 summit quest, I never intended it. It became one summit after the other, after the other.”
The moment Raha Moharrak saw Mt. Everest the first time, she always told herself she will come back. She made that promise and came back when she was ready.
Did you ever feel like giving up?
For a strong woman like Raha Moharrak, she doesn’t really understand the concept of giving up.
“I never felt like giving up; I don’t think I understand what that word means. Although there were days I felt down. You can’t have a proper shower for two months. You get physically drained and emotionally exhausted. There were days when I was in my tent and it’s minus I don’t know what outside, and I’d be like what am I doing here, why am I doing this to myself? I always answered myself with “I want to”. “
Throughout the climb, Raha passed by a dead woman; it is then when she started thinking. Her biggest fear was breaking her parents’ hearts. “I was scared of not going home. I knew the chances I had. I knew the consequences. One of them is you not coming back.”
How did you feel when you reached the summit?
Reaching the summit is nothing like accomplishing any goal. Reaching the summit is like you unlocked a life achievement, at hard mode!
“I reached the summit and looked at it, then I started thinking this if for real, this is for real… I reached the summit and was just standing there; looking at my feet. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Then Garret (her team leader) takes his mask off and yells “You’re standing up here! Believe it! You’re here!”
As the first Saudi woman to climb Mt. Everest, a lot of women in the Arab world look up to you. What do you have to say to those women?
“It’s simple. If I, a Hijazi girl from Jeddah, was able to literally stand on top of the world because I believe myself capable of doing it, then what are they capable of doing themselves? They should believe in their capabilities more than how we are nowadays. It’s just a shame how young girls from our region are brought up to be. We have so much to offer. We have so much potential. We just need the courage.
I never thought that CNN, BBC, and Al Jazeera would be interested in a simple girl from Jeddah. I think the crown jewel of all this is being able to have a voice of a generation of young women that didn’t really have a voice in the sports industry before. The best part of this experience is being able to go to forums and events, speak to young people like you, spread the word, and make sure that every single girl has an idea of what she is capable of just by simply hearing my story.”