The first Arab woman to scale Mount Everest, Suzanne Al Houby, has now set her heart on conquering the mountains of Pakistan.
“I have been to Pakistan twice now. I was invited by Muhammad Azfar Ahsan who runs Nutshell Forums to speak at leadership conferences. I was skeptic first but talking to him gave me confidence that I will be in good and safe hands. So I accepted, and I am so glad I did,” Al Houby said, while speaking to The Express Tribune.
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Being the first Arab woman to climb Mount Everest is not the only feather in her cap, Al Houby is also the first Arab woman to climb Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, Elbrus, Toubkal, Aconcagua and Vinson. Although she has travelled to more than 100 destinations, her thirst to explore has not quenched yet.
Responding to a question about her impression of Pakistan, she said, “I went to Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi. I have also visited Murree and did some trekking there just to have a feel and also have a view point to the expanse of the great Himalayas... the views were captivating and absolutely gorgeous. Add this to the warmth of the culture... then I was really all for a plan to go back to climb.”
The mountaineer, who hails from Palestine, was all praise for the people of Pakistan. “People are really warm, kind, extremely hospitable and welcoming all the time. They really go out of their way to make you feel welcomed! Great culture, great food and gorgeous landscape!” she added.
On her next visit to Pakistan, Al Houby, who is also the founder and CEO of Rahhalah Explorers, an adventure tourism outfitter, is planning to raise money to help terminally ill children in Pakistan. While in the country, she had attended a ceremony held by the Make A Wish Foundation where some of the wishes of the children were granted.
“Ishtiaq Baig is running the Make a Wish Foundation and he is the one who invited me, briefed me and informed me of the needs of the foundation. We have granted 12 kids their wishes. These kids are terminally ill and the generous acts of people supporting will touch their souls forever ...way after they leave us."
Al Houby, who firmly believes in giving back to the community, was touched by the plight of the children. "Some kids asked for a toy, others for Umrah or a TV ... regardless what they asked for, to be able to bring joy to them is priceless. What hit me as well is that these kids do not have access to proper pediatric cancer facilities and treatments which was really heart breaking. Should these kids be somewhere else, they may have had a chance at some treatment that can maybe help them," she added.
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Talking about how she fell in love with the sport of mountain climbing, she said, “I have been always an outdoor person and into sports. I was once in a safari in Africa and once I saw my first big mountain... I was mesmerised and decided right there that I want to climb mountains! The more I climbed that more passionate I was about the whole process, journey and summits!”
Here are some more photos from her Instagram:
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