A 27-year-old graphic designer from Jeddah has created history to become the youngest Arab and the first Saudi woman ever to climb Mt. Everest. Raha Moharrak is part of a group of Arab mountaineers calling themselves "Arabs with Altitude" that also includes the first Qatari man and Palestinian man to attempt the feat.
Moharrak explains her motivation for the climb on the group's website: "I really don’t care about being the first. So long as it inspires someone else to be the second." Moharrak and her three other expedition partners are raising money for Nepali education through the charity Reach Out to Asia.
This brilliant accomplishment comes in the midst of a revolution for Saudi women. Saudi Arabia sent its first ever female athletes to the Olympics last summer, has dedicated 30% of the seats of the Saudi legislative body to women for the first time every, allowed girls to play sports in private schools, and has given women the right to vote starting in 2015.
Yes, these do not sound like victories from a Western perspective and sound oppressive, but they are exceptional moves by the Saudi leadership to advance women who have been excluded from public life.
"We are all very proud of Raha's achievement but are awaiting for her safe return," Moharrak's brother Mohammed told CNN. Moharrak has been training for months and even climbed Argentina's highest peak, Aconcagua in preparation. She is currently scaling back down Mt. Everest and is expected to reach base camp by Monday.
News agencies have been tweeting at the group since the announcement to request an interview with Moharrak. However it is understandable that they haven't yet been able to given that she is quite literally on the top of the world at this moment.