Raha puts Saudi, UAE on top of the world

Suresh Pattali
Filed on May 19, 2013

DUBAI - The UAE’s fame has reached new heights with a Dubai-based Saudi woman scaling Mount Everest on Saturday and three other Arabs, with links to the country, inching to reach the top of the world.

Mountaineering officials in Nepal said the 25-year-old graphic design graduate from the American University of Sharjah was among 64 climbers who successfully scaled Everest from Nepal’s side of the mountain, during a charity expedition.

Raha Moharrak, the only female in the four-member ‘Arabs with Altitude’ group, has become the first ever Saudi woman to climb to the top of Mount Everest. “I really don’t care about being the first ... so long as it inspires someone else to be the second,” Moharrak said ahead of her expedition.

The past ascents of Moharrak, who is originally from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, include Kilimanjaro, Mount Vinson, Mount Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kala Pattar, Pico de Orizaba and Iztaccihuatl.

The ‘Arabs with Altitude’ group also includes Sharjah-born Mohammed Al Thani, a member of Qatar’s royal family; Raed Zidan, 41-year-old Palestinian real-estate businessman who is a United States citizen residing in Indianapolis and Dubai; and Masoud Kalafchi, an Iranian living in Dubai. According to media reports, Kalafchi owns an ice-cream franchise here.

Seattle-based Alpine Ascents International, the expedition company leading the group, told Khaleej Times that all members of the team are safe. “While Moharrak, who was in the first group, has retreated to high camp after spending an hour at the peak, the other members of the group will make their summit attempt either on Saturday night or on Sunday morning,” an Alpine spokesman told KT.

An Alpine Ascents webcast said its first team arrived at the 8,850-metre peak by 8am on Saturday, climbing all night from the highest camp on South Col. “They were led to the top of the world by Alpine Ascents expedition leader Garrett Madison and his team of expert guides — Lakpa Rita Sherpa, Ben Jones, and Brien Sheedy,” it said.

“The team has now started their descent back to the South Col. Let’s wish the team a safe trip down the mountain,” it added.

According to Alpine Ascents, Sherpa’s climbing and guiding achievements include 16 summits of Everest on over 22 expeditions, carrying a record 227 climbers to the top of the world.

“We are trying to raise one million dollars for Nepali education projects during our climb to the top,” the mountaineering group said on its website.

Al Thani, a successful philanthropist, entrepreneur and a passionate mountaineer, says his mission is to push his limits to reach “the seven highest summits of the seven continents of the world”. He is hoping to become the first Qatari to climb Mount Everest.

Zidan, who is married with three children, says he is also looking forward to completing the seven summits.

According to Alpine Ascents, Al Thani, born on June 16, 1982, in Sharjah, is climbing as a brand ambassador for Reach Out to Asia, a private non-profit organisation, based in Doha, with a mission to raise awareness that education is a right for everyone.

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