Anisa Al Raissi, a well-known name to all who loves adventure like hiking, caving, climbing, canyoning in the Sultanate.
She will be creating history by being the first Omani woman to walk the North Pole as part of the Women’s Euro-Arab North Pole Expedition 2017 in April. “It was disbelief at first as I knew how many people had applied and I thought I had no chance of being selected. Then was just really excited as soon as I was over the shock,” Anisa, an instructor at Outward Bound Oman (OBO), recollected her reaction after realising that she has got the selection for the expedition.
The expedition will face many physical challenges – temperatures down to -40°C, polar bears, and shifting pack ice. The main purpose of the expedition is to foster greater dialogue and understanding between women from Western and Arabian cultures, according to her. “Expedition will work to inspire all women to reach beyond the expectation of others and to fulfil their own ultimate life ambitions,” Anisa asserted.
Anisa was selected from over 1,000 applicants from Europe and the Arabian Peninsula to constitute a team that would walk the North Pole. The expedition team will gather in Longyearbyen, Svalbard (which is part of Norway) and fly to Barneo, a floating base camp located on the Arctic ice. The team will ski from latitude of roughly 89°N to the Geographic North Pole, covering a distance of 60 nautical miles (approximately 100km) in around ten days. They will sleep on the ice in tents and travel by ski, pulling behind them sledges containing food, fuel, and supplies for the entire trip.
Speaking about the selection process, Anisa said, “there was an in-depth application in the form of open questions which helped Felicity (expedition leader) shortlist to 50 applicants who she then interviewed.”
The waiting period after the initial application, and then after the interview was just nerve-wrecking, according to Anisa.
Anisa is undergoing daily training on her endurance, core and strength. There will be special training in Iceland and Norway for the expedition. She also plans to take part in few races and events to support her fitness.
“Working with Outward Bound Oman, where I am off on expeditions with groups in the mountains or the deserts helps as well. Training for the cold in Oman is a little trickier — I have got a very generous offer from NHI to use their walk in chiller to help with acclimatisation, there will be more on this next month,” she said.
Anisa wants to inspire many generations of Oman to follow their dreams and to do something different that they have been taught to by doing this highly risk -involved expedition. “I do hope what I do will inspire young Omanis to do whatever they set their minds to. Nothing should hold them back. I hope to share my story with schools and colleges in Oman upon my return,” she said.
She has been very sporty from her younger age as she grew up with her elder brother, who she considers as her idol, and she wants to do all the things which he did and it resulted in caring her fitness. Anisa joined OBO in March 2014 which she contemplates as the best decision that she has made in her life. “I work as an outdoor instructor with my main focus on international schools and The International Awards,” she said.
Travelling helped her to learn three things in her life. “The more I travel the more I realise how closely knitted we all are and how small the world is, how much there is to learn and how little I know and how lucky we are to be able to call Oman home,” Anisa said. According to her, Oman has many things to offer to an adventure enthusiast who plans to visit Oman. “There is a lot that isn’t in the tour magazines and guide books, those are the best places in Oman, and try to make an Omani friend to find out the best spots or do your research beforehand,” Anisa said. There is nothing that is too far out of reach is her advice to the people of Oman who is willing to do something different.
Anisa credits her success to her family especially to her husband. “I am very lucky to have a husband that completely supports me and keeps me motivated to follow my dreams." My husband was glad that I earned this opportunity.
Anisa holds a master’s degree in tourism from Austria and quit her lucrative job three years ago to follow her dreams. She is also a certified kiteboard instructor.
Anisa is currently looking for sponsorships. “I am currently in talks with a few potential sponsors and we do have donors that have donated directly through the website, but no confirmed sponsors as of yet,” she concluded. —[email protected]