Mount Everest: Sheikh and Sheikha

Sheikha Asma Al Thani in Everest Base Camp (in 2019)
Sheikha Asma Al Thani in Everest Base Camp (in 2019)

This much is certain: finances will not be the issue for these Everest aspirants. The Gulf’s moneyed aristocracy will meet on Mount Everest this spring. In addition to Sheikh Mohamed Hamad Mohamed Al Khalifa from the royal family of Bahrain, another member of a filthy rich ruling family from the Middle East is among the almost 250 foreign mountaineers so far with a permit for Mount Everest: Sheikha Asma Al Thani from Qatar. The 31-year-old wants to become the first woman from the Gulf emirate to scale Mount Everest.

It would be the fourth component on the way to her big goal, the so-called Explorers Grand Slam: Sheikha Asma wants to be the first woman from the Middle East to reach the Seven Summits, the highest mountains of all continents, as well as the North Pole and the South Pole under her own steam. Purists actually demand expeditions from the mainland to the North Pole and from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole for the Grand Slam. However, the general public is not so particular about this, but also accepts last-degree expeditions: from the 89th to the 90th degree of latitude north or south.

“Women should achieve their dreams”

Scheicha Asma Al Thani during her last-degree expedition to the North Pole (in 2018)
During her last-degree expedition to the North Pole (in 2018)

Sheikha Asma scaled Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, in 2014. In 2018, she became the first Qatari to reach the North Pole during a last-degree expedition. In 2019, she stood on the summit of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in South America, again as the first woman from the Emirate to do so.

“This has been a journey of firsts, but this is not my focus,” says Sheikha Asma. “My ultimate dream is to be the first of many Qatari women to achieve such feats. Together we can all work to inspire the next generation of women to achieve their dreams.”

Following in the footsteps of her cousin

Her family already includes an Everest summiteer. Her cousin, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, known as “Moe” Al Thani was the first Qatari to scale Mount Everest in 2013 (with bottled oxygen from Camp 2 at 6,400 metres) and later on the Seven Summits and at the South Pole. In November 2020, the 38-year-old summited the 6,814-meter-high Ama Dablam near Everest.

View of Mount Everest (l.) and Lhotse (from Namche)

Like the sheikh, cousin Asma also knows how to move in the social networks and how to market sporting successes. After all, she is the director responsible for marketing and communication at the Qatari National Olympic Committee.

On Mount Everest, Sheikha Asma Al Thani will be in good hands. Tendi Sherpa is to guide her to the highest point at 8,849 meters. The 37-year-old has already summited Everest 13 times, belongs to the exclusive circle of Nepalese mountain guides with an international certificate and is even trained for helicopter rescue from the mountain. A good choice by the Sheikha.