Arab women may have been the world’s silent heroes for many years, but this is no longer the case. Achieving world firsts, especially in athletics, has become increasingly common for women from this region, thrusting an often marginalized community into a long-deserved international spotlight. One such trailblazer garnering recognition for redefining perceptions is Dolores Shelleh.
Almost a year after the Jordanian mountaineer became the first Arab woman to climb Mount Everest from its treacherous Northeast Ridge last May, National Geographic Abu Dhabi will share her story in a documentary depicting her challenging journey to summit the world’s highest peak. The film, The Lone She, will premiere on March 8 in honor of International Women’s Day as part of National Geographic’s marathon showcase of inspiring women from around the world, giving viewers a heart-stopping look into the “longest two months” of Shelleh’s life.
Scaling more than 8,800 meters in freezing temperatures, Shelleh chose to take the less-traveled North Col route, which is prone to fatalities because of its harsh weather conditions and lack of rescue options, in an effort to encourage sustainable action and inspire future generations of Arab women to “rally behind noble causes that are important to the community today” and “achieve new heights.”
“By scaling Mount Everest from the North Col, I intended to highlight the message of embracing more sustainable practices and to promote the use of renewable energy as well as reinforce the need to follow healthy lifestyles in harmony with nature,” the Dubai-based climber previously shared.
However, Mount Everest is not the only daunting climb Shelleh has conquered to raise awareness for the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which calls for climate action and gender equality. She also became the first Arab to summit the Himalaya’s Mount Manaslu–the eighth highest mountain in the world and another famously dangerous trek–as well as Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak.
“I decided to take on a mission that seemed impossible to many people around me, including myself,” said Shelleh in a video describing her inspiration behind these adventures. “It’s really not only about reaching the top. It’s more of the process and journey of learning before, during, and after the climbs.”
The Lone She will premiere on National Geographic Abu Dhabi on March 8 at 10 pm UAE time.