posted on 06/05/2012: 641 views
A week-long hiking trip to Mount Fuji proved to be more than a physical challenge for 12 Emirati women who returned to the UAE with a "new sense of direction" according to the founder of the company that organised the trip.
Hala Kazim, who owns coaching company Journey Through Change, travelled with the women, some seeking personal and professional guidance, hoping that her mentoring formula would help them.
Speaking to Gulf News upon their return this month, she said: "Women in this region aren't used to explorations. When they get the chance to conquer the unknown, detach from everyday reality, and focus on themselves in a natural environment, the possibilities are endless."
Hala's coaching formula is a combination of hiking and mentoring activities outside the UAE. "Walking and talking are two activities during the trip that help women mentally and emotionally connect with themselves," she said.
Hala used to hike solo for several years, and since she started her company 16 months ago, she has taken 40 women to six countries including Austria, Switzerland, Spain and France.
"On solo trips, I discovered that through walking, I could focus better. After you push yourself physically, you feel a sense of liberation, achievement and accomplishment, connecting the physical health benefit with mental well-being. I wanted to share this learning with other women. Initially, some participated to overcome grief and deal with personal issues, others wanted to explore, but all returned more confident and positive," she said.
A few participants spoke to Gulf News about their experience.
Tala Badri, the owner of a music centre, called the trip "life-changing".
"I am a child from a mixed marriage — my father is Emirati and mother, Lebanese. I studied in a British school and completed my education in the UK. Being with Emirati women on the trip helped me learn more about my own culture. It also opened my eyes. I was out of my comfort zone, travelling with people I didn't know and yet connecting with everything new from the place [Japan] to the local Japanese," he said.
For Amal Dawas, senior officer at a government organisation, the trip was her first hiking experience.
"I wanted to de-stress and learn coping skills to help me in a professional setting, especially how to deal with customers and co-workers in a calm manner," she said.
Speaking in context of being an Emirati, Sulafa Mohammad, a businesswoman, said: "There are many challenges in business that I felt the need to be in a different environment. Through the various activities and new experiences, the time away afforded me the opportunity to learn coping skills, allowing me to focus better on my business."
Salwan Al Shaibani, a business owner, said the adventure helped her widen her understanding of a new culture. "I have been on four trips with Hala and each one has been a liberating experience." – Gulf News
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