Shed self-doubt: Omani explorer tells women

Muscat, Oct 23 – Anisa al Raisi and Major Natalie Taylor are ‘poles apart’ when it comes to their extraordinary achievements. While Al Raisi was the first Omani to conquer the North Pole, Natalie Taylor was part of a team of six British soldiers — the first female team — to reach the South — Antarctica. The two were part of a lecture titled ‘Two Women, Two Poles and Two Cultures’, delivered recently at the Ministry of Defence Pension Fund, under the auspices of His Highness Dr Ahmed al Saeedi, Minister of Health.
Backed by Addleshaw and Goddard, Bondoni and Ministry of Defence Pension Fund, the event saw the two recounting the psychological/ physical challenges they faced when exploring some of the most inhospitable places on the planet in their attempt to reach the respective poles.
Their journeys sent out a strong message about teamwork, leadership and resilience, and the capacity of women in handling challenging environments. They shared their experiences of living in confined spaces, their mental and physical preparations, and their strategies for dealing with constantly changing/ evolving challenges.
They described themselves as “ordinary women doing extraordinary things.” Natalie Taylor along with six other women crossed Antarctica on foot in January this year. The journey took 62 days, in temperatures that dropped to minus 40 degrees Celsius.
With wind speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour, the women, using only skis and muscle power, hauled sledges weighing 80 kg that carried their food and survival equipment. Three months later, Al Raisi, an instructor with Outward Bound Oman flew to the opposite end of the earth, and joined an all-female Euro-Arabian team in an attempt to reach the North Pole.
They hauled sledges over the ice every day and travelled on skis using muscle power. The conditions in the Arctic were no less challenging than in Antarctica. Despite temperatures dropping to minus 40 degrees, shifting sea ice, the team travelled and slept on a thin layer of moving, frozen ocean. They were faced with a constant threat of predatory polar bears and the risk of the ice cracking beneath them.
“This experience involved turning a dream into reality, something that required a great deal of hard work, time and effort,” said Al Raisi.
Thanking Omantel and Bondoni for helping her to represent Oman, she said: “I hope, in my role with Outward Bound Oman, I can now use my experience to inspire other Omanis — young people in schools and colleges and corporate employees — to believe they are capable of overcoming fears and self-doubt to achieve greater things in life and at work.” They hope their achievements will encourage other women and girls to take on physical challenges and achieve things out of their comfort zone.
The event concluded with Al Raisi asking the audience to help build a team of Omani female achievers to join her on a challenging four-day course in the Rimal al Sharqiya Sands this winter. The course, to be sponsored by Bondoni, will be led by Al Raisi. Applicants can contact Anisa al Raisi at admin@outwardboundoman.com before November 11.