Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

First Saudi woman summits Mount Everest

By Bryony Jones, CNN
May 20, 2013 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Raha Moharrak is first Saudi woman to reach summit of Everest
  • Moharrak is part of "Arabs With Altitude" team, with a Qatari, a Palestinian and an Iranian
  • The expedition is aiming to raise $1 million for education projects in Nepal
  • 2013 marks the 60th anniversary of the first successful climb to the summit of Everest

(CNN) -- A 27-year-old graphic designer has made history by becoming the first Saudi woman to conquer Mount Everest.

Raha Moharrak reached the top of the mountain on Saturday as part of the "Arabs with Altitude" expedition, which also includes a Palestinian, an Iranian and a Qatari aiming to be the first from his nation to summit the mountain.

The mountaineers' Twitter account, @EverestArabs, marked the occasion by tweeting: "The first ever Saudi woman to attempt Everest has reached the top!! Bravo Raha Moharrak. We salute you."

"I really don't care about being the first, so long as it inspires someone else to be the second," Moharrak, who lives in Dubai and in the Saudi port city of Jeddah, is quoted as saying on the expedition's website, Arabs on Top of the World.

Sherpas, climbers sign Everest treaty
Mountaineer George Lowe dies at 89
Climber 'traffic jam' on Everest?
Conquering the world's highest peak

Read more: Climber summits Everest twice in one week

Coming from a traditional and conservative family meant that "convincing them to let her climb was as great a challenge as the mountain itself," according to her biography on the site, though they now fully support her efforts.

"We are all very proud of Raha's achievement but are awaiting for her safe return," Moharrak's brother Mohammed told CNN.

The team -- made up of Moharrak, Qatari Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani, Palestinian Raed Zidan and Iranian Masoud Mohammad -- is aiming to raise $1 million to fund Reach Out to Asia's educational projects in Nepal.

Moharrak spent many months training for the expedition; she scaled Argentina's highest peak, Aconcagua, in February and has been in Nepal acclimatizing to the altitude since early April.

Read more: Google Maps climbs world's tallest mountains

She is now on her way back down the mountain and is expected to reach Everest base camp on Monday.

Moharrak's ascent is the latest step in changing attitudes towards women and sports in Saudi Arabia. The ultra-conservative kingdom fielded its first female Olympians at the 2012 Games and officially permitted sports in private girls schools for the first time earlier this month.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first expedition to reach the summit of Everest: Sir Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay made it to the top of the mountain on May 29, 1953.

CNN's Schams Elwazer and Bharati Naik contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 17, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
NASA's chief scientist Dr Ellen Stofan wants to land humans on Mars by 2035, but there are some serious challenges to overcome before then.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT)
The Design Museum hosts a power dressing exhibition, from Joan of Arc's short tunics, to Joan Collins' eye-gouging shoulder pads.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1520 GMT (2320 HKT)
Opinion piece from architect Zaha Hadid on growing up in a very different Iraq, to close Leading Women's month of STEM coverage.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1227 GMT (2027 HKT)
Leading Women ran an iReport assignment which resulted in some amazing images of girls in STEM from our readers.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1108 GMT (1908 HKT)
Robots can be many things -- knowledgeable, dexterous, strong. But can they ever be genuinely laugh-out-loud hilarious?
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1830 GMT (0230 HKT)
Victoria Beckham has come a long way from Posh Spice. She has now been named Britain's top entrepreneur, by magazine Management Today.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
Just one in seven engineers are female. STEM experts share their ideas on how to get more girls into the industry.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
In 2006 she sold her business to Estée Lauder in a reported multi-million dollar deal, five years later she started a brand new company.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1014 GMT (1814 HKT)
Some of the greatest scientific breakthroughs have come from women, though like so many inventors their names are lost in the pages of history.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
Leading Women hosted a Twitter Chat celebrating girls in science with guests including race car drivers, software developers and coders.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 0936 GMT (1736 HKT)
There's a fine science to running a billion dollar company. Rosalind Brewer should know -- she used to study chemistry.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Join our twitter chat @CNNIwomen on October 9 at 5pm GMT/12pm EST and look for #CNNwomen #IDG14.
ADVERTISEMENT