Muscat: Having the GCC’s only Outward Bound centre is a matter of pride for Anisa Al Raissi, one of the directors of Outward Bound Oman.
Aimed towards educating the next generation of students about the importance of adventuring, and encouraging a love of the outdoors, Outward Bound is a global movement that encompasses more than 40 schools and 200,000 students across the globe, since its founding in 1941.
“We actually get students from all over the region who come to us, so that is a real matter of pride for us, being the only Outward Bound in the region,” said Al Raissi, speaking exclusively to the Times of Oman.
“We work with students and schools from all over, and we take pride in not just Outward Bound, and showing the headquarters to people, but showing our country to them, as well.
“The diversity of the outdoors that Oman has is just not there in the rest of the GCC,” she added. “It’s that which Oman has, that the rest of the region does not. There are so many opportunities to show so much nature, whether it’s the mountains or the deserts or the wadis, and the adventures here just don’t stop.” Al Raissi is also part of the Women’s Euro-Arab North Pole Expedition, making her the first Omani to trek to the North Pole.
“I think it’s just my love for the outdoors and working with young people, and that mix, that makes it the best of both worlds that drew me to it,” she noted. “Giving so much of my time and energy to Outward Bound is so worth it, because I came from a different background, and I have no regrets since.
“We take different groups of people to different places every week, so it’s always different: I can’t pinpoint one favourite memory, but that, in itself, would be one of my favourite things about Outward Bound, because working with different people in different places and different settings keeps things different, and there is no monotony to the work,” added Al Raissi.
While being outdoors and experiencing nature first hand might not have any immediate pay-offs, the long-term benefits of this are very beneficial.
“For me, it is very important that people begin to experience the outdoors at a young age: that’s been a very important thing for me – being outdoors and experiencing the outdoors first-hand,” she explained.
“Working outdoors is definitely character building, as well. You develop confidence, and there is more depth and perception that you develop to the things around you.
“Another thing is that you are forced to push your comfort zone and venture into the unknown,” added Al Raissi. “This is about unlocking your potential, but you cannot do that unless you experience something that you may not be too comfortable with. That is one of the biggest life lessons that any student with Outward Bound learns.”
Outward Bound Oman recently received praise from the Duke of York, something she believes will only help raise the profile of the movement in the region.
“To receive praise from him is very flattering, because Outward Bound Oman is very young, compared to the other Outward Bound movements around the world,” noted Al Raissi. “We only set up shop in 2009, and he actually came here for the opening of one of our first centres, our desert centre, so that was very encouraging to hear his words, and he is very supportive of us.
“What we focus on at Outward Bound is not just tourism, but mainly the educational side of being outdoors and adventuring,” she said.
“Youth make up the majority of Oman’s population, and it is very important to focus on educating our young people.”