“I remember when we arrived at basecamp 2 during my first trip to Jabal Shams. I stood on the side of the mountain, at approximately 5000 ft. above sea level, and looked down to the wadi (valley) below while falcons flew next to me. The experience took my breath away, and I felt that I was one with nature. It was a remarkable feeling of excitement, serenity and happiness all at once that I will never forget.” As longtime friends and former colleagues together here at bazaar, the local Art Director and designer extraordinaire Sumaiya Al-Sharhan recounted her adventures in Oman with a passion and fervor in her eyes that I never saw before. Her newfound love for adventure is inspiring me, and hopefully all of our readers, to seek the road less traveled this 2017.
Always the outdoorsy type, Sumaiya knew that she wanted to explore the adventurer within, but didn’t know where to begin. When she heard about Husaak Adventures from a family member who happened to be a part of the Husaak team, Sumaiya decided to give it a try. Renowned for their remarkable adventure trips, and discovering rare sites across scenic Oman, little did Sumaiya know that she was about to embark on a life-changing experience. While most might know and follow Ali, the famous explorer and founder of Husaak Adventures on Instagram, we see a person’s vision truly transformed with Sumaiya, and it all began with her very first hike.
In retrospect, Sumaiya told me that she didn’t think she could survive her very first hike, “My first trip was my worst. I had trained for the hike a month ahead and once I reached Muscat airport I caught a horrible flu. Regardless, I still decided to go on the 20+ kilometer hike.” She felt broken, both mentally and physically, “It was extremely challenging and I felt like the mountains had conquered me. When the trip was over, I said to myself that I would never repeat the experience. But once I recovered, I realized that I had conquered the mountain, not the other way around, and everything in my life became suddenly easy.” Since that moment, Sumaiya tries to face every problem with a new found sense of simplicity. She added, “My way of thinking had changed forever. It became my addiction and sure enough I was registered the following month on another beautiful adventure.”
Sumaiya chose Husaak Adventures because she witnessed Ali’s dream of sharing the experience and beauty of the outdoors with others come true. She also cites other factors that set Husaak Adventures apart from other operators, “We take people to remote places to find themselves and change their way of thinking.” Rather than take the common option of visiting luxury resorts, Husaak challenges the norm by having travelers experience every facet of nature. From scenic surroundings to facing mental and physical challenges, the experiences take people out of their comfort zones and places them with strangers who inevitably support one another. Sumaiya further explained that, “The quality of the trips taken is paramount to the success of Husaak Adventures, from the safety preparations to the best quality of food possible for those camp site dinners. Lots of customers give us feedback that the guides become more like friends or family, rather than people only there to guide the trip, which makes the experience a lot more enjoyable to them and us as a team.”
As our conversation progressed, I immediately noticed that it is Sumaiya’s love and respect for the Husaak team that motivated her to become a co-guide. She said, “I love their never-ending support, as well as the opportunity to explore new places and push myself beyond my limits. I personally learn from every experience no matter where we go, whether we are exploring mountains, wadis, beaches or canyons.” Initially, Sumaiya didn’t train to become a part of the team, but she noticed how her fitness level drastically increased ever since her addiction to these Oman excursions began. “It became my outdoor gym,” she laughingly said, “so I kept going on different trips and sometimes, the same trip multiple times. This is because no matter how many times you visit the same place, the group is different and thus the experience is different.” Noticing Sumaiya’s passion and daringness, was Husaak Adventures owner Ali. After giving her a detailed presentation about the team, Ali asked her if she would like to try guiding others towards finding their place in nature.
In becoming a co-guide, Sumaiya embarked on a different kind of journey. One that not only involved a great amount of preparedness and hard work, but also great responsibility. Due to the nature of this job, being physically fit is a must, and Sumaiya has proved herself to be more than capable of handling all the preparations that need to be done for each trip. She assists and supports the guide(s) in whatever they may need, and is responsible for multiple tasks throughout the trip while also caring for others. She does all of this with a huge smile on her face, only because she is ultimately having the time of her life.
Sumaiya’s experience proves that the journey of self-discovery is never-ending. When she was going through a tough time, one of the executives at Husaak Adventures recommended that she should take on the 7th Hole Cave Trip to clear her mind. In doing so, Sumaiya met amazing people who she immediately connected with as if they were family, and together they climbed down a remarkable cave for the very first time. To her surprise, Sumaiya developed a friendship with one of the customers, and today she calls her “my Habitat adventurous soul sister. We became adventure buddies and both of us are now part of the guide team!”
I caught up with Sumaiya after one of her many weekends away in Oman to ask her how she was faring as co-guide, and her eyes shone with elation when she replied, “I am ever so grateful for this amazing opportunity of being part of the team and I see myself change and grow to the better. I’ve learned and am still learning to deal with different personalities from different countries and dealing with various situations I’ve experienced.” She jokingly added that “the only challenging part is trying to remember 15-20 people’s names in three days and wanting to get to know all of them within the trip.”
Sumaiya’s experience urges us all to inject some adventure into our lives. Her key advice is to make sure that you’re physically fit for the level of fitness required for the Husaak Adventures trip that you sign-up for. She also advises to “go with an open mind and heart, and I guarantee either a change in your life or at least seeing things differently in the sense of appreciating many things we take for granted on a daily basis.”
When she’s not hiking or co-guiding, Sumaiya’s aim is to further explore Oman, and travel the world to get as many passport stamps as possible. On a personal level though, her ultimate goal is to continuously train to eventually become a Husaak guide, and she ended our conversation over coffee and lotus biscuits with this assertive plan, “I’m looking into getting outdoor guiding certificates from different countries. I want to simply keep learning, growing and improving as a person and an outdoor enthusiast.”
TRUTH OR DARE QUESTIONNAIRE
How would your mother describe you in one word?
How would you describe your mother in one word?
What is the most ridiculous question you’ve ever been asked?
“Where is the bathroom?”, while on a camping trip.
What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Flew to Abu Dhabi and back in a day to meet with Ali, owner of Husaak Adventures to discuss the opportunity of joining the guiding team.
What is your theme song?
“Shoop” by Salt & Pepper.
What word in the English or Arabic language do you wish you had invented?
Where would you like to live? What is your dream retirement location?
I love Kuwait but I definitely would love to retire in Oman of course. It’s close to home and the outdoors there are too beautiful to resist.
What is the first famous quote that comes to your mind?
“I am strong because I’ve been weak. I am wise because I’ve been foolish. I am fearless because I’ve been afraid. Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures. They will overcome challenges and nourish their souls.”
What animal best describes the kind of partner you’d be interested in?
What do you miss about your childhood?
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
I wouldn’t change my name but if I was forced to, it would be Maya.
How would you describe your handshake in one word?
What is the toughest part of your character?
Who is your favorite historical figure?
Ghandi & Maya Angelo.
What in the world do you least desire?
Egos and racism.
What do you think is lacking in the world, which if there was more of would make the world a better place?
Respect & kindness.
Why do you think most girls/guys like you?
I think it’s my positive energy and down to earth vibes. Some also tell me, my smile.
Finish this sentence: “Happiness is a thing called…”
Peace of mind and unconditional love.
For more information about Husaak Adventures, visit www.husaak.com. Find the complete calendar of upcoming trips to book your next adventure with Sumaiya and the Husaak team.