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
April 1, 2014 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
In 2007, Arianna Huffington collapsed at her desk. Suffering from a broken cheekbone, the editor-in-chief decided to change her workaholic ways.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1623 GMT (0023 HKT)
Meet Mo Abudu, the talk show host portraying a very different Africa. As a glamorous presenter, she also heads up Ebony Life TV network, based in Nigeria.
April 11, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Their job is capturing the most horrifying images on Earth -- keeping their eyes open, where others must look away. Meet Kate Brooks and Gerda Taro, the war photographers of today and yesterday.
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Gloria Steinem speaks onstage during Equality Now presents 'Make Equality Reality' at Montage Hotel on November 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
As Gloria Steinem turns 80, Kathleen McCartney highlights the remarkable life of the feminist so far.
March 8, 2014 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
CNN hosted a Tweetchat on gender equality with special guests including Nobel Peace prize laureate Tawakkol Karman. Here's what you missed.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1059 GMT (1859 HKT)
From shaving her head for climate change to opting for a sustainable business model, Vivienne Westwood is simply unstoppable.
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1502 GMT (2302 HKT)
In what would be a dream come true for her alter ego, Carrie Bradshaw -- Sarah Jessica Parker has turned her love of fashion into a new shoe range with Manolo Blahnik.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
The Facebook COO's latest headline-making action is a new "Ban Bossy" campaign, which aims at getting rid of the word "bossy."
March 18, 2014 -- Updated 1417 GMT (2217 HKT)
Meet Gail Kelly, the woman who started as a bank teller -- and now runs the banks.
March 6, 2014 -- Updated 0546 GMT (1346 HKT)
What kind of politician is slashed in the face with a knife, and upon waking up in hospital the first thing they ask about is the election campaign?
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1650 GMT (0050 HKT)
Former U.S. State Deparment Anne-Marie Slaughter says Brad Pitt is 'posterchild for engaged fatherhood'.
February 25, 2014 -- Updated 1525 GMT (2325 HKT)
Cast your eye across a line-up of world leaders and it might look a little something like this: Man in dark suit, man in dark suit, man in dark suit, Angela Merkel in fire engine red two-piece.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Meet Margarita Louis-Dreyfus, the chairperson of French commodities giant Louis Dreyfus Holdings, with a net worth estimated at an eye-watering $6 billion.
February 17, 2014 -- Updated 1138 GMT (1938 HKT)
YouTube has a new boss and she has a "healthy disregard for the impossible" -- according to Google CEO Larry Page. Here are five things you didn't know about her.
ADVERTISEMENT