Emirati climber: Women have natural mental strength to conquer highest peaks


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Women have the natural mental strength for climbing the highest mountains in the world, according to a young ambitious Emirati woman who is training to climb Mount Everest next year.

“As long as you have the mental strength, you can push through the physical training,” she added.

Al Ali, a mother of two and in full-time employment, said her love for adventure, travel, outdoors and extreme sports got her interested in climbing. For her first stab at mountaineering, she conquered Kilimanjaro, in Africa, in December 2013 and has been climbing ever since.

“It was such an amazing experience and it really inspired me to continue climbing. When I returned I made a training plan to climb Mount Everest and have been training since,” said Al Ali.

Although Al Ali thoroughly enjoys her travels and climbing, she hopes more women would take up the sport as she believes they would be very successful.

“I want to see more women involved. Most of my trips I have been on my own. I think if more Emirati women get into the sport, it will encourage more and more people, open up more doors and become a more accessible sport,” she said. Al Ali said she trains for several hours a day, seven days a week which she manages to do before her children wake up and late in the day. Her determination to keep a balance between her passion, work and family life has extended her training period. She said she does not mind and her moto is “conquer one mountain at a time”.

“It is not a race. The mountains are not going anywhere, they will still be there when I am ready,” she said.

Al Ali said she understands the cultural issues that women in the Middle East can face if they want to take up the extreme sport, which could prevent their participation. She herself had to work hard to win the support of her family and friends who did not agree with her choice of sport when she first started.

“You can overcome any obstacles. I dress modestly, I even wear my sheila scarf, and my family know that I am sensible and wouldn’t put myself in any dangerous situation when climbing,” said Al Ali.

She said her family members were extremely proud of her after she completed her Kilimanjaro climb and are now her biggest supporters, specially her children whose pictures she carries to the top of every mountain she climbs.

She faced other challenges such as finding the right trainers and her biggest challenge yet, the cost of the expedition for her most technical training.

Al Ali said as part of her training for Mount Everest, it was crucial to climb other mountains, specifically Chamonix in France, as it is the “capital for technical mountaineering”, but the cost of the expedition nearly put a stop to her plans.

Having announced to a number of people about her goals, she said she was lucky enough that a firm, DarkMatter, heard her story and decided to help her pursue her dream and sponsored the trip.

As she prepares to climb the highest mountain in South America, Aconcagua, in January 2017, prior to climbing Mount Everest, her advice to other women who may be interested in taking on mountaineering, “It is more of a mental game than a physical one. So do your research, find the right expert that will provide you with the correct advice, train and just go for it.”

“If you have a dream, make it your goal and pursue it. No excuses. I pushed through everything (hardships). You just have to want it enough.”