Shereen Abdulrahman Abulhassan I was an extremely fortunate child, born to parents who moved to Alkhobar as it was a developing city set to be a model across the Kingdom. I was lucky to grow up in an environment that encouraged learning and growth, and which allowed a child’s personality to develop, regardless of gender.
My parents never discriminated between their daughters and sons, even when customs and traditions limited women in the Kingdom and elsewhere. We were all allowed to practice our hobbies and pursue our passions with encouragement. My late mother was an avid reader, and my father continues to be a keen sportsman.
I went to Switzerland just after high school.
My parents sent me to study at the Institut Villa Pierrefeu, a school of etiquette, for one year.
After attending that Swiss finishing school, I received my bachelor’s in English literature from the University of Dammam, I got married and had five children, a daughter and four sons.
For 20 years, I’ve devoted myself to raising my children until they grew self-reliant. A new stage was about to begin.
Taking up from my mother, I was an avid reader for years so I founded the Tent Book Club in 2011. After sending my children off to college, I entered a new phase in my life: Exploring the world and its coexistence of cultures that I had read about for years.
In 2016, I set off on a journey to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in northeast Tanzania. I found myself in a beautiful world where I could exercise in nature, by climbing to the peak of mountains.
In November 2017, I decided to establish the Rawasi Hiking Team. I was encouraged by the changes that were happening, and continue to be taking place in Saudi society for women. I formed a team, expecting that there would not be more than 20-25 people interested. We were largely targeting women, but to my surprise, in one month, 170 members from both genders joined, traveling twice a month to various areas around Riyadh, once every two months to a heritage site in the Kingdom and for two summers in a row, we traveled to Russia and Japan with funding from prominent female sponsors.
I was supported by my amazing husband, Abdullah Alamri, who was beside me every step of the way, encouraging and supporting me with every decision I made.
I challenge myself every time I set out, I want to reach the summit by any means.
On my first trip to Kilimanjaro, I was struck with anxiety and fear after enduring freezing temperatures, I fell behind and was left alone with my guide. After checking my vitals and oxygen rate, he cleared me and helped me continue forward. I pushed on, until reaching the summit at sunrise. I felt a sudden strength channelled by my late mother, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s at the time, I stood and admired the strength that pushed me toward the peak. My mother, a source of power, a strong woman who moved to a new city not knowing anyone until with time, became one of the most prominent women in the Eastern Province, loved and respected by all.
Strength derived from success on the peaks has helped me overcome all my fears, as the American author Ruth Gendler once said: “Fear has a big shadow but it is small in size.”
Dreams are limitless, whether you’re on top of a high mountain or on an arduous adventure, a mantra I encourage my friends and teammates to follow.
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