Anisa Al Raisi
I’m a runner, rock climber, pluviophile, water sports enthusiast, motivational speaker, adrenaline junkie, world traveller, foodie, self-professed ‘Scrabble Legend’… and a former real estate agent.
In April 2018, at the age of 34, I made history by becoming the first Omani to ski the Geographic North Pole. Setting off for a challenging expedition with the unique 10-member all-female Euro Arabic team, we crossed unforgiving, harsh, beautiful and life-changing treacherous terrain at the top of the world, finally reached the North Pole in 8 days. Nothing was going to stop me; not wandering polar bears, sub-zero snow storms, hunger or loneliness.
Travelling in a place that is so unforgiving, and yet free of human influence, allows you to remember the scale of our planet and your place in it. The daily routine of a manual expedition is one of constant workload, vigilance, routine, concern about hazards such as the weather and crevasses, and maintaining a philosophical attitude towards all the inevitable problems that arise. All this is underpinned by the worry that one night, as you sleep, your resolve to keep going might simply desert you. Tent life is cold, damp and cramped, and it's easy to have serious doubts about the merits of such self-imposed suffering. All of this is fortunately countered by moments of blinding clarity where elation takes hold as you realize the enormity of the challenge you are steadily accomplishing and how life changing it is. The artic is extremely cold and unforgiving, but the rawness and beauty of it all is out of this world and motivates you to keep going.
But my story neither starts nor ends here...
Waiting for something that you know may never come to pass is extremely difficult, however, it is even harder to give up on something that you really want. From an early age all I wanted was to venture down the paths less travelled; and this is where my journey of self-discovery begins.
I joined Outward Bound Oman as an instructor in 2014. As a fitness fanatic, someone who likes high adrenaline sports and the great outdoors, I was keen to see if I could turn my life passions into work. My body has been my only engine, driven by the strength and determination of my mind. If there’s something that I’ve learned it’s that the power to move the world is in the subconscious mind, and a focused mind is one of the strongest forces on earth.
‘The great ambitions of nations and peoples are not achieved accidentally or by depending on others. They are only achieved by self-reliance, hard work, creative efforts, wholehearted and responsible participation. This is what we call upon you today to achieve, for our country now and in the future.’
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said, Sultan of Oman 18.11.1990
Life Is A Journey
Life is a journey, and we set out not knowing exactly where we will end up. We take each step with our focus ahead. These experiences often force us out of our comfort zones and provide opportunities for personal growth.
Those who know me well know that I thrive in my "stretch zone". Our comfort zone is our preferred way of doing things or responding to situations; our daily habits and routines. While our comfort zone is effective in getting things done and maintaining the status quo, it is not an effective way to improve, grow, and develop. The stretch zone is the region outside the comfort zone where there is unease, where new and unfamiliar experiences occur, and where the panic zone is sometimes encountered. It is in the stretch zone where we learn new skills, adapt to unfamiliar circumstances, think outside the box and innovate, and are challenged to do things we never thought possible before. The more we engage in activities that “stretch” us the wider that zone becomes, which allows us to be more flexible and resilient when there are challenges.
A Path less travelled – The Yalla GO Expedition 2020
Yalla Go will see Natalie Taylor (British) and myself cross Oman from the Northern tip to the South coast in a straight line, kayaking seas, traversing mountains, crossing desserts and experiencing the beauty and rich history of Oman along the way. The journey will have us cover more than 1,5000kms over 50 days, starting in November 2020 and finishing in January 2021. The expedition will be the first of its kind as we will not be deviating from our selected route by more than 5km, making this extremely challenging and dangerous given the diverse terrain Oman offers.
When we face challenges in life we are pushed to acknowledge our shortcomings and need to develop and grow as leaders, parents, people. It is then that we transform, moments that break us and make us dig so deep within ourselves to find that reserve we never thought existed.
To me success is not what you accomplish in your lifetime, it is what you inspire others to do in theirs.
We have plans and strategies, but they do not always work out. There are times when we get knocked down and doors close. Our hopes can often be replaced by fears. We can lose our direction and so we will change, and become passengers in the life that is spinning too fast.
The great outdoors represents a place where you are made brutally aware of your insignificance. Taking the path less travelled, unsullied by humans, enables you to have a very intense, personal relationship with your surroundings.
‘Maktoob’: derived from the old Arabic verb ‘write’, meaning “already written”. It refers to the idea that everything is pre-determined by a higher power. You can’t tell that process “you ought not to happen!”
Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass. Accept that “it ought to happen!” Accept that “it must happen!” And you WILL catch onto the trick of it. Life is a journey, and we set out not knowing exactly where we’ll end up. But take the path less travelled and I promise you this, wherever you go, it will not be boring.