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Breaking Barriers: Meet The First Saudi Woman Mountaineer Raha Moharrak

raha moharrak

“I did not set out to be a poster child for anything. I saw a mountain. I wanted to climb it.” Raha Moharrak

For many of us dream to climb the world’s highest mountain Everest is really hard to achieve, but for Raha Moharrak, it was extremely important to realize this difficult dream as it also involved breaking a taboo. Raha is a 32-year-old graphic designer hailing from Saudi Arabia, a country having quite an orthodox society where only a few sports were allowed to be played in private girls’ schools. But Raha Moharrak, having been raised by her modern thinking parents aimed for greatness and wanted to test her limits. This, of course, meant challenging the culture of her country.

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Raha loved mountaineering since she was a young girl. She wanted to pursue her passion for mountaineering but getting the nod from her father Hassan Moharrak 2013, who in the beginning had conservative views, was her biggest challenge. “I told him the idea and he was like ‘you want to do what? Ah very interesting. Why don’t you leave it until you get married?'”  Raha says. Angry and still determined to follow her heart, Raha wrote her father a long email proving her point and waited for three days for his response. “I was so scared of his reaction,” she says. “And after the three days of silence to me he sent me one line — ‘I love you. You are crazy. Go for it.'”

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Ever since Raha Moharrak’s family has been supporting her throughout her journey. Raha finally started climbing mountains in November 2011. Within a year, she conquered eight mountains including Kilimanjaro.

On May 18, 2013, Raha Moharrak created history by becoming the first Saudi woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest.

raha moharrak

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“I wanted something different; I wanted something that challenged me and that pushed me further. Then this idea of climbing Mount Everest came to my mind. It stuck in my head for days. Someone told me I couldn’t do it, and that really annoyed me.” Raha Moharrak
Raha became the youngest Saudi to reach the top of the world and was part of the first Arab team to make the climb.
“When I finally got there I was thinking 75% of people die on the way down, so I was thinking to celebrate but not too much because you still have to get down.” She underwent rigorous training for the expedition and promised herself that if she was at risk of losing fingers and toes to frostbite, she would give up her attempt. Many were suspicious that she would make it. “One person actually said ‘What is Barbie doing on the mountain?‘ and Raha gave him a brilliant answer! She said: ‘Don’t let the Disney princess hair fool you.’
raha moharrak

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Raha Moharrak’s triumph on Everest is leading to a growing number of milestones for women in Saudi Arabia.
She gets inspiration from America-based Sarah Attar who became the first Saudi woman to compete in an Olympics at the London Games in 2012 and Dubai-born Elham al Qasimi who became the first Arab woman to reach the North Pole in 2010. “I did not set out to be a poster child for anything,” Raha Moharark says. “I saw a mountain. I wanted to climb it.”
Raha’s genuinely hopes that her achievements will actually help change the perception that Saudi women have of themselves. She remembers an email she received from a young fan. “I think she was 13 or 14 years old … saying ‘I just wanted to tell you that after hearing your story I found the courage to ask my father for a bicycle.’ I thought if that young lady had the courage to buy a bicycle today and to ride it, what is she capable of tomorrow?”
For Raha, the achievement is not being the first Saudi woman to conquer Everest, but to ensure she is not the last!
raha moharrak

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“It doesn’t have to be a mountain you have to be climbing. I hope to change people’s opinion about Saudi in general and Saudi women and Saudi women’s opinion about themselves. I really hope they can step out of their comfort zone and just dream: try to push your limits.” Raha Moharrak

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Comments (19)

  • Adam Tripp 2 months ago Reply

    Excellent story! Thank you for sharing this.
    Adam Tripp recently posted…The Legend of FarnsworthMy Profile

  • Tiffany Yong 4 months ago Reply

    If anything, I think Raha has a great dad! Someone who supported her regardless of her bold moves. I don’t think she would be able to achieve what she did today without the moral support of her parents. Respect!

  • Nati 4 months ago Reply

    What an amazing and inspiring experience, I am sure this wonderful lady will have an impact in the society she comes from.
    Nati recently posted…Nail Art │ Peach and Lilac Stamped gradient Manicure [26 Great Nail Art ideas]My Profile

  • Daria 5 months ago Reply

    This is very inspiring and educational. You are a great writer as well.

  • Laureen 5 months ago Reply

    Wow. I am truly inspired. What a remarkable women. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ntensibe Edgar Michael 5 months ago Reply

    Yyyaaaayyyyyyy! I’m sssoooooo proud of you, Raha!

  • Sam 5 months ago Reply

    What an inspiring woman and story. It’s wonderful that by following her dream, she made history. She’ll inspire so many girls to follow their own dreams.

  • Stephanie Jeannot 5 months ago Reply

    What an amazing experience and quite cool for someone to accomplish. Thank you for sharing her story. Though I may never attempt to climb Mount Everest, I can honestly say that I have many mountains in my own personal life that I can someday conquer the top because of this story. Thank you for that.

  • Tanvi Rastogi 5 months ago Reply

    I had no idea … what an inspiriting woman. Way to pave the path.

    ❥ tanvii.com

  • Elizabeth O 5 months ago Reply

    This was such a fascinating story! It is really incredible to read about Raha and her achievements. She seems like an inspiring woman.

  • Tizzy Says 5 months ago Reply

    Considering the type of society that she was raised in, she was really blessed to have the support of her family, especially her father.

  • Michelle Leslie 5 months ago Reply

    What an inspiring young lady. Loved her response to the Barbie comment on the mountain, LOL and what a lovely response from her Dad too. Wishing her many more mountains to conquer and really hope we hear more about her

  • Preet 5 months ago Reply

    Inlove how adventurous shebis. Love nountain climbing and I admire her so much with her passion.

  • Kesha 5 months ago Reply

    This really hit home for me. Raha is an incredible woman and it’s amazing what she was able to accomplish. Her Mt. Everest is symbolic for the mountains we all face. She was determined to achieve this but she was also prepared to turn around or choose a different path is things went wrong. We all should go after our dreams but we should also create contingency plans.

  • Blue 5 months ago Reply

    Very inspiring. And interesting, especially nowadays when women are finally allowed to drive a car.

  • Lex Lu 5 months ago Reply

    I love your story, it is always so inspiring when a woman takes the reigns of her life and goes for what she is passionate about. May you have continued success in your travels and climbing!!!

  • Madison 5 months ago Reply

    WOW – what an incredible story! I love hearing about women who are achieving greatness. I love this example of a strong and empowered Saudi woman! Thanks for sharing.

  • Anna Turska 5 months ago Reply

    A fascinating person i did not know about!

  • FootprintsinCulture 5 months ago Reply

    Love this!

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