“Rock climbing is about self-control and self-strength.”

It’s a sport that requires strength, determination and courage, and Yasmin Gahtani has them all in spades.

Saudi Arabia’s first female rock-climbing instructor has around 100 students right now, Gulf News reports. She hopes to take one of them to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the first year that rock climbing will be included.

This Dubai-based hijabi just spoke at Facebook’s headquarters
Sheikh Mohammed comes to the rescue of friends stranded in the desert

Gahtani has been teaching for about a year, after getting certified by the American Mountain Guides Association in Chicago.


She hopes to change the sport’s perception in the Kingdom, where many see it as a men’s pursuit.

“Rock climbing is about self-control and self-strength. It’s about being strong, surviving in harsh conditions and being independent,” Gahtani told Gulf News. 

“Trust me when I say that a lot of men cannot do what I do.”

Gahtani, who’s 39, was working as a computer programmer when she saw a friend rock-climbing on Instagram. She tried it for herself and was instantly hooked, Gulf news reports.

“I was hanging high above a cliff holding onto dear life. It was the scariest moment in my life, but I fell in love,” she remembers.

“It’s all about how your body moves and dances skilfully on the wall.”

Since that first outing, Ghatani has climbed in 39 countries. It’s a growing sport, she says.

“The more you climb, the more you progress. I’m still progressing. There is no limit. Every month, old records are broken and new ones are set,” Ghatani tells Gulf News.

More and more Saudi women found Ghatani’s Instagram, and she decided to open start training others.

The Kingdom has many ideal outdoor climbing spots, she says, adding that many international climbers would likely visit given the opportunity.

We can’t wait to see what Gahtani gets up to next.

– For more about Dubai’s lifestyle, news and fashion scene straight to your newsfeed, follow us on Facebook

Images: Yasmin Ghatani/Instagram