Saudi Women Scaling New Heights
The first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest has proved that anything is possible once you set your heart on it. Raha Moharrak, 25, made history by reaching the summit of the world’s highest mountain. She is also the youngest Arab to make it to the top of Everest. Moharrak was part of a four-person expedition that also included the first Qatari man and the first Palestinian man attempting to reach the summit.
Originally from Jeddah, Ms Moharrak is a university graduate currently based in Dubai. Their cause was to to raise $1M for education projects in Nepal.
“I really don’t care about being the first,” she is quoted as saying. “So long as it inspires someone else to be second.”
In Saudi Arabia, where women have struggled to be heard and where the society imposes a lot of restrictions on women, Moharrak’s achievement is praiseworthy.
Khaled Almaeena, Editor-in-Chief of the Saudi Gazette, spoke exclusively to Jeddah Blog. “Raha is an example of many women in Saudi Arabia who are determined to carve a niche in society.” Almaeena went on to say, “She has set standards of endurance both physical and mental. It is an example to all women here that there is hope, despite man-made obstacles for Saudi women to reach the finishing line.” Reflecting on the contribution of Saudi women in society, the notable columnist and social activist said, “I truly believe that qualified, dedicated and determined Saudi women can not only be equal, but also outshine their male counterparts.”
Saudi women’s achievements have been gaining momentum since King Abdullah announced for the first time the names of the women he would appoint to the country’s consultative Shura Council, the closest thing the country has to a parliament.
“I really don’t care about being the first. So long as it inspires someone else to be second.”
The impact of their selection is yet to be seen but their representation is a milestone for them and their position in the Saudi society. Last year in London, female athletes also represented Saudi Arabia at the Olympics. And ever since the employment ban was lifted for women, they can be seen working in the malls as cashiers and sales persons. They have also replaced men at most cosmetic and lingerie stores throughout the city.
Recently, Cabinet ministers issued a new law making national identification cards mandatory for all women. This move will grant them identities independent from their families.
Changes might seem slow to people living outside the Kingdom, but for the women in Saudi Arabia, positive changes are certainly on the way.