Getting set for YallaGo
Anisa al Raissi will embark on a 1,200km trek with Dr Natalie Taylor, her UK companion, to mark Oman's 50th National Day and spread the message of overcoming adversity, including COVID-19
On 18 November 2020, Omani national and Outward Bound Oman Business Development Manager Anisa al Raissi, along with British companion Dr Natalie Taylor will embark on a 1,200km trek from Musandam to Mirbat, to challenge their own potential, to strengthen ties between Oman and UK, and sound a clear message to all youngsters to stand firm on the path to realising their own dreams.
The trek is in celebration of the 50th Omani National Day and serves to commemorate the sultanate’s anniversary of the Renaissance. The journey will also serve to pay homage to the late Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said, on the first National Day since his passing, and salute His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik al Said.
Throughout the trek, Anisa and Natalie will encounter multiple terrain, as they walk, climb and kayak across Oman, whilst sharing a message of strength, resilience and perseverance, following the world’s extensive fight against COVID-19, using the motto of ‘YallaGo’ to uplift both Omani and British people. They plan to draw on parallels of the unpredictable ups and downs of the global pandemic with the varying terrain of Oman, using the rugged, yet stunning, landscapes as a visual representation of the battle against the invisible enemy.
To celebrate the launch of the ‘YallaGo’ mission, Anisa al Raissi and Natalie Taylor will be encouraged in their endeavour under the patronage of H H Theyazin bin Haitham al Said, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth.
Anisa and Natalie aim to inspire people to step outside of their comfort zones, embrace an outdoor lifestyle, seek new adventures and reconnect with the visceral world around them. Through teamwork and shared motivation, ‘YallaGo’ will stimulate, strengthen, and solidify the relationship between the two nations. After months of staying indoors due to COVID-19, the expedition mission is to reassure and encourage the youth in Oman and the UK to get active and take advantage of all opportunities in a safe manner.
Taking the path less travelled
Anisa al Raisi commented, “To me success is not what you accomplish in your lifetime, it is what you inspire others to do in their lifetime. YallaGo is a concerted effort to celebrate life's diversity and, in doing so, shine the spotlight on preserving our differences whilst facing incredible mental and physical challenges.
“I hope we can use the journey as an opportunity to inspire and encourage young Omanis to take the opportunity to challenge themselves provided by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos through joining an Outward Bound Oman course-17,000 people have already done so, learning about their own strengths and areas for development, and enhancing their employability in an increasingly competitive landscape. And what better representation of a dynamic environment than the great outdoors!
“The outdoors is where we are all made brutally aware of our insignificance. Taking the path less travelled, unsullied by humans, enables us to have a very intense, personal relationship with our surroundings. We set out in this life not knowing exactly where we'll end up. So stay resilient, understand that life is full of challenges. Take the path less travelled and I promise you that wherever you go, it will not be boring. Yalla Go!”
Dr Natalie Taylor, organiser of the first All-female team to cross Antarctica coast to coast via the South pole using muscle power alone (Ice Maiden) and one of 10 of Marie Claire’s ‘game changers’ that shaped 2015, added, “I am incredibly excited to be in Oman and start this once in a lifetime adventure. We will be pushed both mentally and physically as we embrace the challenging, vast, and varied yet stunning Omani terrain. What lies ahead of us is somewhat unknown, not dissimilar from the situation the world faces at the moment as it navigates COVID-19. As a result, we will be forced to adopt different coping techniques, ones we wish to pass onto the young people, especially given the current circumstances they face.”
Starting their journey on Quoin Island in the North of Oman, near Musandam, Anisa and Natalie will head south, ending their journey in Mirbat, in Dhofar, early-January. Not only will they be navigating the various terrain which encompass Oman, they’ll also be complying with COVID-19 restrictions, working against the clock during the day to adhere to the regulatory safety measures.
The ‘YallaGo’ team is also encouraging schools to get involved and follow the journey, using the constant updates and a means to motivate students to stay active and always persevere and push themselves to succeed. The journey’s progress will be updated at www.yallago2020.com, as well as on the YallaGo2020 social media pages, and also serve to showcase the sultanate’s natural beauty.
Anisa al Raissi
Anisa was one of 11 women to ski to the North Pole in 2018, making her the only Omani to have ever completed this courageous challenge. She is also an inspiring and motivational instructor at Outward Bound Oman.
How did you hit upon this idea and how much of planning has gone into this event?
When I was in the UK doing training with OBO I heard about "Beeline Britain" where someone traveled in a straight line across the UK and I thought this would be great to do in Oman to showcase what a beautiful and varied country we live in an a brilliant challenge for me. A LOT of planning has gone in to this event, permissions, logistics, support crew and all in between as well as the training. With the time difference between Oman and the UK meeting with Natalie have been a challenge but we have worked together and with support from General Richard Stanford, Senior Loan Service here in Oman we have been able to get such a lot of support along the way. We have been planning and preparing this for two years.
What hurdles do you expect en route and what preparations have you made to tackle these? There will be a lot of challenges from crossing the mountains in the north and the deep wadis in the south. I am very comfortable in the desert as I have spent a lot of time there with my work with Outward Bound Oman (OBO). The Kayaking at the start will be a challenge also. We have a comprehensive safety plan and the support will help us tackle the challenges along the way. We hope kids will follow us online and give us extra support too.
Dr Natalie Taylor
Former Ice Maiden, Dr Natalie Taylor, previously skied 1,700km across Antartica. She is also a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps and was named one of Marie Claire's 'Women at the Top' in 2015.
Do you feel this expedition will help strengthen the cultural bonds between Oman and the UK and how to you propose to project the outcome back in the UK?
Yes I do, an expedition like this will help the children in the UK know where Oman is and how beautiful the country and people are. We have a following in the UK on social media already and I have spoken to almost 1000 school children in the lead up to YallaGo and will do the same on my return.
Besides physical and mental preparation for such an expedition, do you think there is need for a third aspect - be it spiritual strength, sixth sense, divine providence, etc - to tackle the unexpected?
There is always a third element to expeditions, you can find out so much about yourself when yo push yourself past what you thought physically or mentally possible. When you challenge yourself (a challenge for you does not need to be a big expedition) you have the opportunity to find out what makes you you and connect with the self/soul/god whatever you wish to call "it".