Sky is the limit for Jordanian mountaineer who is helping Arab women reach new heights

Dolores El-Shelleh: ‘As an Arab woman I always wanted to do something challenging.’
Updated 08 March 2018
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Sky is the limit for Jordanian mountaineer who is helping Arab women reach new heights

DUBAI: When most people take on a challenge, they usually start small before moving on to tougher and more demanding feats.
But from the start, Dolores El-Shelleh set her sights as high as possible, literally, by deciding to climb the world’s tallest mountain, Everest.
“As an Arab woman I always wanted to do something challenging and new from my perspective that will distinguish me among my community,” said the 27-year-old Jordanian. “Then I found my ambition. Mountaineering is a new trend in Arab culture. Not many women get the chance to do this activity and a lot of people are amazed that I come from the Middle East and I am in my 20s.
“I really wanted to step in and try something totally different, something out of my comfort zone and my family’s and community’s beliefs.”
However, not everyone was supportive of her passion as she set out to achieve her dream.
“I faced two different-sided opinions in my family: Those who encouraged and those who were against it, especially at the beginning,” said El-Shelleh. “Relatives have approached my father saying, ‘What are you doing, letting your daughter go to the Himalayas — it’s dangerous.’”
Women from traditionally conservative countries in the Arab world often feel pressure to conform to the cultural norms of their families and societies, such as marrying young or keeping their personal or career aspirations in fields deemed more “suitable for women.”
El-Shelleh is determined to break the mold and hopes to inspire others to follow suit.
“I want to be an inspiration and have the honor of raising the flags of both my beloved home country Jordan and the country of opportunities, the UAE, on the world’s highest mountain,” she said. “I want to make every person in my country proud, and empower other women in my society to have the courage to speak with loud voices and overcome the fear of resistance, no matter what their ambitions in life.”
El-Shelleh has already scaled smaller peaks in the Himalayas, and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, one of the so-called seven summits, the highest mountains on each continent. She has also completed a technical winter mountaineering course in the Alps.
Her dream of conquering Everest has attracted support from, and helped to inspire, women in her native Jordan and across the region.
“A lot of women come back to me and say, ‘Dolores, we never thought we would do something that challenging and now we want to go full force and try it’,” said El-Shelleh.
She also revealed that her dream is about much more than just the climb.
“It is not only about reaching the mountain’s summit,” she said. “It is the adventure itself and learning about the different cultures in this world, which will bring us closer to humanity.”
As she continues her training to prepare for Everest, the next summit she will tackle is Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. She will climb it with a team as part of an initiative for Jordan’s King Hussein Cancer Foundation, titled “From the Lowest point to the Highest point against Cancer.”
El-Shelleh’s Everest climb is scheduled for 2019, which means her training schedule is rigorous and involves some personal hardship.
“It takes compromise and sacrifice,” she said. “People don’t see the frustration in it — finding true believers to be part of this journey is time-consuming and a lot of people won’t understand that.”
El-Shelleh fits her strict training regime and schedule around her full-time job in advertising.
“I felt like I was going to quit a couple of times — and I still feel a lot of frustration — but I just keep remembering that I’ve come so far on this path and I also have a lot of supporters who are true leaders so why should I stop now?” she said. “I keep thinking why should I stop now if I truly believe that nothing is impossible?”
Perseverance is key to her successes so far and is, she believes, “something everyone should have to conquer any type of goal in life.”


Bum move: Kardashian ‘kimono’ shapewear sparks Japan debate

Updated 4 min 40 sec ago
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Bum move: Kardashian ‘kimono’ shapewear sparks Japan debate

  • The pop culture icon unveiled the new ‘Kimono’ line on Twitter
  • But the announcement garnered mixed reaction both at home and in Japan

TOKYO: American television star Kim Kardashian has sparked debate in Japan by naming her new line of shapewear “Kimono,” prompting some to accuse her of disrespecting the traditional outfit.
The pop culture icon unveiled the new “Kimono” line on Twitter, revealing she had been working for a year on the underwear to offer “solutions for women that actually work.”
But the announcement garnered mixed reaction both at home and in Japan, with some offering their criticism on Twitter using the hashtag #KimOhNo.
“She’s been to Japan many times. I’m shocked. She has no respect,” tweeted one user in Japanese.
“I like Kim Kardashian, but please pick a name other than kimono if it’s underwear,” wrote another.
“The Japanese government should file a protest against Kardashian,” wrote a third.
Kimono literally means “something to wear,” while Kardashian’s use of it appeared to be a play on her first name. The new line’s website offered no explanation, and Kardashian has yet to respond to her online detractors.
And not everyone was opposed to the name, with some users arguing it could offer a chance to promote a traditional outfit that is declining in popularity even in Japan.
Once a standard of the Japanese wardrobe, the kimono is now often reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and coming-of-age ceremonies, and is mostly worn by women.
And while the elaborate outfits might appear to have little in common with the snug garb being offered by Kardashian, kimonos are not only often hugely expensive but known for being hard to wear.
Women frequently hire experts to dress them in kimono because the outfit requires seemingly endless nipping, tucking and strapping.