In a first for Egyptian women, 42-year-old Manal Rostom became the first Egyptian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest after nearly two months of climbing. Her triumph occurred on Monday, May 16, eliciting awe and excitement on social media platforms.
Rostom said from Everest base camp she was "safe and sound" in a 30-minute feed to followers, detailing the experience and her feelings. "I am the first Egyptian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest!"
“I’m very proud of this achievement. It means a lot to me," she said. “I still can’t believe it. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my whole entire life.”
Mountaineer and marathon runner Manal Rostom, the girl who refused to surrender to custom and tradition, rebelled against them and decided to get rid of all obstacles and break down the restrictions that might hinder her success and ambition.
The Dubai-based athlete combined her love of science, sports, and adventure by teaching pharmacy, jogging, and mountain climbing until she became a shining star in the adventure sky. In a short period of time, the media flocked to her to learn the secrets behind her achievements and successes.
Manal Rostom was born and raised in Kuwait. Her Arab-Egyptian parents did not support her decision to be a hijabi. She began wearing a hijab at the age of 19 after surviving a near-fatal car accident. Rostom began sports at a young age. Throughout high school, she admired older girls who participated in after-school sports.
Rostom began her academic career at Kuwait's New English School. She earned an International General Certificate of Secondary School in 1996 (IGCSE). She then attended Alexandria University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2001.
In addition, from 2013 to 2015, Rostom worked as an Advanced Instructor of RPM, Sports, and Exercise at Les Mills International. Not only that, but from 2017 to 2018, she also trained as a Body Balance Group Instructor at the same school.
Rostom has also climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, and Mount Elbrus during her athletic career. She has also completed five of the world's six major marathons, including those in New York, Berlin, Chicago, Boston, and London, as well as the Great Wall Marathon in China.
She is best known for her collaboration with Nike, in which she became the first woman to appear in a Nike advertisement while wearing a hijab. Following the campaign's success, Nike announced the release of a new athletic hijab, its first Muslim-specific product.
Aside from athletics, Rostom is an activist who has worked to raise awareness of the discrimination faced by women who wear the hijab. “Surviving Hijab” is an open platform for women to share stories about wearing the garment and was founded by her in 2014. The group has approximately one million members.
According to Manal, her motivation for forming the group stemmed from a dark and desperate place. She was bullied by a society that made her feel uncomfortable because she chose to practice her faith by covering up.
It is noteworthy that the first Egyptian to reach the summit of Everest was Omar Samra in 2007, and since then he has reached the seven highest peaks in the world. The first Arab woman to reach the summit of Everest was Saudi Arabia's Raha Muharraq, who was the first and youngest woman to climb Everest.