CAIRO – An Egyptian Muslim pharmacist is striving to become the first hijabi Arab woman to climb Mount Everest, overcoming social and cultural challenges to fulfill her life dream.
“In every exploratory expedition I go to, I am often the only veiled Arab among all the women, and the reaction is like ‘Oh my God!’ we did not know you were allowed to climb,” Manal Rostom said in an interview with the Arabic edition of Deutsche Welle, Nile FM reported.
She continued: “They do not know my abilities. The minute you wear the headscarf, you initially advertise yourself as a Muslim. So if you excel in your professional career, this changes the world’s views on who we are as Muslim women, and that’s what strengthens me every day.”
Rostom’s adventures started in 2009 when she climbed Mount St. Catherine out of experience and experimentation.
She also participated in several marathons around the world in Luxor, Dubai, Kuwait, Amman, Jordan, Great Wall of China, London, and Madrid.
Rostom was chosen as the first hijab Egyptian Arab woman to be the face of the international women’s sportswear company Nike.
Her journey began for the first time at Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest mountain peak in the l
In 2013, she climbed Mount Kenya, the second highest peak in the world, at a height of 5,199 meters. While in 2015, she reached the highest peak in Europe and the fifth highest peak in the world, the summit of “Elbrus” in Russia with a height of 5,642 meters.
And finally in 2016 Manal climbed the 3,563-meter-high Mount Himalaya base.
During her athletic journey, hijab did not pose a problem for Rostom.
“I was about to take off my hijab, which was a moment of weakness for me, and in 2014 I launched a group on Facebook with the slogan ‘Surviving Hijab’, I founded it to help me literally survive the hijab and I initially added 80 girls handpicked from my Facebook friends,” Manal explained
“Now the group has about 600,000 members. You do not have to be Muslim to join, nor do you have to be wearing a hijab either, it’s nice to see women supporting other women because they understand their struggles. It’s a safe haven for women.”
“Whether you choose to wear a bikini or burkini on the beach, no one has the right to interfere with how you wish to live your life,” she concluded.
Dr. Nadia El-Awady , another Egyptian Muslim woman and a scientific journalist, has succeeded to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.