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Raha Moharrak: Moving Mountains

Breaking a lot of stereotypes as a Saudi woman, Raha Moharrak is the youngest Arab and the first Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest in 2013. To date, the mountaineer has climbed six of the seven world’s tallest summits and hopes to adventure to the seventh this summer for the second time.

“It was like a calling,” recalls Moharrak in an interview when asked about what triggered the idea of choosing the extreme sport. “Mountaineering was never a plan in my life. It just happened,” she said.

Having studied graphic design, she pursued a career in an advertising agency in Dubai. Moharrak says she had to move back to Saudi Arabia to go through obligatory societal customs of waiting for a suitor to pick her as his bride. But that wasn’t a path she’d tread on yet.

“I was destined for more than to walk a path, she said. “I was meant to climb it.”

Moharrak had a very supportive family, which she explains her idea to venture out on her first adventure came with superfluous amount of convincing from her side. “My father said a very quiet “No” when I asked him over the phone,” said Moharrak. Hanging up and not wanting to defy her father’s word, she recalls it kept eating at her all night.

Not too long when she decided to put it all in an email, from the fact that her parents taught her to follow her dreams to why she believes she can make it to Kilimanjaro, and click send. Being severely dyslexic and not very fond of writing or typing, Moharrak said that it was the hardest part of all her mountain-climbing experience – to click the ‘Send’ button in an email to her father.

Although her father didn’t talk to her as often as he would after the email, he replies to her some time later saying he loves his crazy daughter and that she can go ahead with it.

After successfully conquering her first mountain-climbing experience at Mount Kilimijaro in 2011, which she says she almost died in because of her zero experience, she started liking the sense of pushing her limits. “I became addicted to it,” she said.

“I grew up dreaming of going to the stars,” said Moharrak in a recent interview. “I still dream of going to the stars. This is just one step closer for me to get there. Nothing is impossible, even for a Saudi girl to stand on top of the world.”

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