After braving shifting ice 10 hours a day for eight days in -40°C, the first Omani woman to ski the Geographic North Pole says she is ready for the next challenge. Nishad Padiyarath meets the ice-cool lady
A woman like Anisa al Raisi lives to raise the bar.
At 34, she just achieved an extraordinary feat of becoming the first Omani woman to ski the Geographic North Pole in eight days. “You should never give up on an opportunity. I am the type of person who goes for an opportunity. I look for an opportunity and if I feel there is a challenge, I will grab it,” she said speaking exclusively to the Y magazine.
Last month, Anisa joined the ‘Women’s Euro Arabian North Pole Expedition 2018’ led by British polar explorer Felicity Aston, MBE, and set off for a challenging expedition where she managed to ski over 80km on the treacherous terrain at the top of the world and reach the destination in less than eight days.
Anisa is an engaging storyteller. “It was a rewarding experience. It felt really great to have the Sultanate’s flag at the Geographic North Pole where we could only reach after going through numerous challenges, like the unpredictable weather conditions that can reach as below as -40 degrees C, the physical and mental tiredness,” she told Y at the Omantel headquarters on Sunday.
Anisa and the Euro-Arabian team slept in tents on the ice when they were not skiing, and hauled in sledges everything they need to survive in the Arctic.
“You know life offers you so many challenges but it’s all about how you tackle them,” she said. “You walk miles and miles, but the view does not change. We couldn’t even talk to each other due to the strong wind and I felt all alone. All we could do was to concentrate on our goal and keep going on,” she explained.
The most important lesson she learnt from this trip is perseverance. “The hardest part for me was not the physical but mental part of it of course. Literally, 10 hours a day you will witness the same view and it never changes. I was in a situation where I could not talk to anyone because my face was covered and it was all myself for 10 hours. The biggest lesson I learnt is to set a goal and push yourself to achieve that,” she said.
Despite skiing for around 10 hours a day in harsh conditions, Anisa and the rest of the team have gained weight. “We have added fat and lost muscles. A specialised team of researchers have examined us to find out what impact do extreme conditions have on women,” she commented.
“I had a talk with the students of the British School Muscat before I left for this trip and one small girl came up to me and said: I want to be like you. And every time when I used to feel tired during the trip, it was the face of this girl that came to my mind. That’s what I’ve learnt – never give up!” she said.
Asked what would be her advice to the Omani woman who wants to take up similar challenges, the young explorer had this to say: “Don’t let any obstacle stop you. Don’t live the expectations of others. You don’t know what you’re capable of until you try it.”
Ali Bakshit Kashoob, senior manager of marketing communications at Omantel, said: “Anisa has made us all very proud. Making her way to the top of the world proves once again that Omani women can reach everywhere with their dedication and hard work.”
“At Omantel, we are keen on supporting inspiring youngsters like Anisa who encourage other youngsters to push beyond their limits and make big achievements. Our support to Anisa is also in line with Omantel’s new brand campaign: Amazing Happens Together.”