Never one to rest on her laurels, Manal Rostom is set to achieve her next dream. The Egyptian is leading an all-woman mission to Everest Base Camp. The challenging two-week trek, taking place March 17 until March 31, is a ‘Surviving Hijab’ adventure in partnership with Facebook.
Born and raised in Kuwait, Rostom, who is a clinical pharmacist, certified personal trainer and Nike Run Club coach, has explained the aim of the trip is to fight against stereotypes about the hijab and show the true meaning of unity, tolerance, equality and inclusiveness for all women. It is “to show the world what it means to be a hijabi woman living in the 21st century,” Rostom, who has already been to the Base Camp of the world’s highest mountain, told “Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.” “People don’t get it, they don’t understand. I want to change the false perceptions that assume hijabi women are boring and uneducated, women who don’t play sport or travel.”
The group of UAE-based women that has been chosen to join her on the expedition includes hijabis and non-hijabis, with participants from Palestine, Syria, Canada, Hungary, Saudi Arabia, UK, UAE, Lebanon, Egypt and Australia. As Platinum Sponsors, Namshi is showing its support by providing all the mountaineering gear.
About Surviving Hijab
Rostom encountered the daily challenges and stereotyping that followed after she chose to embrace the hijab at the age of 21. So she wanted to launch a platform for women in the Middle East to share their stories, fears, doubts, or just have an open conversation about wearing the hijab and wanting to learn more about the culture. And indeed the closed women-only Surviving Hijab’ Facebook group, which she launched in 2014, has become a safe haven for the hijabi community to come together. The hugely popular group grew rapidly from just 80 members to over 623,000 women in less than five years. Catching Facebook’s attention, Rostom was invited to Facebook's 2018 GMS conference, where she got to mingle with the company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg. The 39-year-old also became a winner of the Facebook Community Leadership Award as a fellow.
The athlete and influencer, who has climbed several of the world’s highest mountains like Kilimanjaro and Elbrus for good causes, gained attention after becoming the first Arab woman to be the global face of Nike Pro Hijab. Rostom is also the first Egyptian to run The Great Wall of China marathon. While she has already run in several other renownded marathons to raise funds, she has her sights set on another feat: to become the first Egyptian to complete the six major international marathons.