February’s – ‘The Love Issue’ – Download Now
Creative Direction: Amy Sessions
Photography: Žiga Mihelcic
Videographer: Steve Erana
Fashion Assistant: Sarah Joseph
Hair & Makeup: Melanie Meyer at MMG artists
Location with special thanks to Mleiha Archaeological Centre, Sharjah
With a passion for adventure since she was young, Raha Moharrak has never taken no for an answer when it comes to doing what she loves.
“There’s nothing wrong with failing, the only shame is not trying something new,” says record-breaking climber Raha Moharrak. As a pioneer for Arab women, Moharrak truly is paving the way for change for future generations in the region in whatever field it may be.
With a keen love for adventure since she was young, Saudi-born Moharrak has gone on to become the youngest Arab and the first Saudi woman to climb Mount Everest. She’s also conquered the Seven Summits – the highest mountains of each of the seven continents around the world.
Truly passionate about being a role model and changing things for the better, Moharrak spoke to Emirates Woman to discuss her love for climbing, the huge responsibility she feels being a role model and her hopes for a bright future for women in the Middle East.
Can you talk us through your climbing expeditions?
I started at a very young age to dream of going on crazy adventures. I never imagined that my level of adventure would take me to this crazy life I have now – I’m so grateful for it. I just started by doing whatever I could. Being active by doing scuba diving, horseback riding, swimming – anything I could. Then I started this crazy mountaineering career which slowly snowballed into an awesome adventure. I started with Mount Kilmanjaro which was my first official mountain and then from that, I slowly finished the Seven Summits. In short, I just started as a child always dreaming of adventure.
What ignited your love for climbing?
I’ve just always had a love of adventure and it just happened to manifest into climbing as an adult. For as long as I can remember I’ve just always been very adventurous and very bold in my quest to live a life that was driven by curiosity. So, my love for mountaineering just evolved as I grew up. Mountaineering was the perfect answer to my love of adventure. It was s outdoors, it was athletic, it was unknown to me, it took me to different countries. It ticked all of the boxes I wanted. It’s an evolution and manifestation and deep desire to travel the world and live with an insatiable appetite to discover new places and things.
What do you love about what you do?
So many things! I’m always driven by a passion. I’ve never been the type that follows a paycheck or anything like that, I’m driven by passion. That’s what I love about my life, I’m always learning something new. I’m always going to new places, I’m always challenging myself and that’s what makes life beautiful to me. This love for the unknown, this love for learning. I never get bored. Whenever I get a little bit tired or a bit jaded, I go back to the essence which is the deep love I have for adventure and that feeling it gives me – it fills me with joy and that’s why I love it so much.
You’re a woman of many firsts. What is it like being a woman in this region to pave the way for others?
This is a tough one! I feel such a huge responsibility. I feel a huge weight on my shoulders knowing that people look up to me, that young girls look up to me. It also feels incredible and I’m honoured. Every time I think about it I actually get a little bit nervous and I get goosebumps thinking about the impact I have because we all have responsibility. This is especially true if you have a platform where you have people following you and you have the space to share your voice make sure you use it for good, for something positive. Don’t just be a passenger in life. Have a voice and help others. Sometimes it really hits me when I get messages from people all over the world that I’ve touched so many lives – it’s truly an honour and humbling.
What are your hopes for women in the future?
Call me a hopeless optimist but I have lots of aspirations for women in this region. I truly think that my generation, we have just scratched the surface. We have just cracked the ceiling, just opened the doors. It’s the next generation’s responsibility to go through those doors, to shatter those ceilings, to make my accomplishments and my records seem like nothing. I can’t wait for the next generation of women to have an incredible leap forward. I have so much hope – the future is bright!
What do you love about being a role model?
I love that I get to change the story. I love that I have a hand, however small, in changing the story for women. I love that I can help those that are like me, that come after me, so they don’t have to suffer like I did. I took all the hits, I took all the bullets in order for them to pass freely. So, I love that about my life and being a role model. I love that I’m able to pave the way for the next generation of women behind me. It’s the same for me, I couldn’t have gotten to where I am now without the women who came before me. I really take it to heart whenever someone says I’m a role model, it’s such a big responsibility for me and I don’t take it for granted.
What advice would you give to young women in this region?
My advice for everybody is to not fear failure. Don’t see it as an ending, see it as a beginning. See it as a challenge, not as a put down. There’s nothing wrong with failing, the only shame is not trying something new. I always encourage people to go out and try something new. I would rather have 100 failures, than no failures, no attempt, no chances, no new experiences. Most people don’t even start something because they are riddled with fear, and that’s a terrible thing that you could do to yourself. So, don’t fear failure!
What have been three hurdles you have experienced in your career?
I have more than three! I would say breaking stereotypes, breaking stigmas, proving people wrong when they have the wrong idea about you. Challenging myself. Believing in myself when less than a handful of people believed in me. And staying motivated, happy and positive. I know it’s corny to say, but staying positive doesn’t come easy at all.
What have been three major milestones in your career?
A lot of people would assume it’s conquering many mountains around the world, which is partly true. But it’s also staying true to myself; being a rebel and unique and original and still having my parents’ love. It’s being content in who I am and not conforming to anyone else’s standards. There are so many things I’m proud of and, to be honest, the majority of them can’t be put on a mantle or in a frame, because it’s down to mindset and the acceptance of oneself and having a love for life. Of course, I’m very proud of my sports career and all of the records I carry, but the ones I’m proud of the most are hard to touch and can’t be quantified.
This is ‘The Love Issue’ – what does love mean to you and how do you plan to instil love into your life throughout 2021?
I think human beings have decided to coin the word love for anything that they cannot describe, or have a hard time describing. Love is the moments that can never be described to anybody, besides the person you shared that moment with. Love is the words with the eyes and not the lips. Love is the moments that define us, that make us who we are. Love is what makes me wake up every morning trying to be hopeful, positive and happy, even though sometimes it can be difficult. But I have a love of life and a passion to live a memorable life, to live happy and true to who I am. Love is what you give yourself. It’s hard to describe, but it is definitely the essence of what makes us human.
February’s – ‘The Love Issue’ – Download Now
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