Last featured in our bazaar pages back in 2011, we were super excited when we learned about Lama Al-Fadala’s latest exploits in the great outdoors. When she told us that she was part of a group that organizes adventure trips in Oman that are geared toward encouraging adults and kids to experience the great outdoors, we had to find out more!
A little over a year ago, Lama considered it normal for people to approach her to talk about politics – she’s constantly asked to comment on her tweets. When she decided to shave her head and donate her hair for a cancer charity, however, she noticed something different. She explained, “I only did it in hopes that others would do it, and we ended with 20 hair donations. My actions elicited a response from cancer patients to friends of patients and even random people. A woman once hugged me, and I was so taken back by the fact that people here in Kuwait are beginning to let go of cultural constrictions and what we call ‘social boundaries.’ Finally we are speaking with one another.” Feeling a deep sense of gratification, Lama continued to seek out instigating change, and saw that her recent trips to Oman with renowned explorer and adventurer Ali Husain and a similar minded group of people provided for a wonderful opportunity. She added, “I learned that once you touch something that someone is feeling deep inside, they let go of silly and contrived socio-cultural constrictions.”
Nowadays, Lama tries to squeeze in an adventure excursion in Oman twice a month. Recently however, they tried something different: Taking children on a marked trail in Jabal Shams. The concept has grown with the efforts of people like Lama, where she has taken it upon herself to encourage children to embrace and explore all that nature has to offer. “It’s work,” she stated, “You’re set on a schedule, and you have to strictly abide to these time constraints for your safety, and the safety of others too.” Everyone pitches in to get things done in time, and Lama loves how children, like adults, are taught to work with people that they’ve never met before in their life. She also explained that her desire to do this came from her experience as a mother. “When I started going on these adventure trips with Ali about seven months ago, it came to me. I realized how I wished that I had this opportunity as a child. I wish I had started younger, and I’d like to offer my children this opportunity.” For children, adventures are filled with wonder, and once they know that they can experience things that they have only ever imagined or seen on a smart device, they will want to actively prepare for one. While she does believe that these trips encourage children to maintain a better fitness routine, she sees a hike on a marked trail at Jabal Shams as the perfect opportunity for children, as well as parents, to let go of technology and experience the real world.
Lama also informed us that the trips are set to take place only during the weekend, as to not disrupt a family’s regular weekly schedule. Because Oman is conveniently located, a father can take his son on a fun weekend for a true bonding experience through the adult and child option, or the whole family can embark on this experience together. If you think that one weekend is not enough, the experience proved the total opposite for many people who participated. “One day, Brilliant Impact.” Lama said, quoting a previous participating mother. To ensure the safety of all the participants, the trips take place at Jabal Shams by taking on a beautiful, marked trail to an abandoned village that is hundreds of years old. The team behind this effort is also slowly but surely planning more activities, once more and more people get familiar with the trail and Oman’s landscapes. She believes that the most important experience that children and adults alike can take away from this trip is the fact that you arrive one day, meet new people, and explore something entirely new with well-trained guides. She added, “The relationships you build know no family names, positions backgrounds or preferences – you are simply connected by working together on these trips.
The effort behind what is now easily found on Instagram by looking up the hashtag, #jabalshamsrangers, is completely organic. Parents are most certainly responsible for their children’s safety, and it is Lama’s responsibility, along with the guides and co-guides, to set up a safe program and trail and to facilitate the whole experience. All trips will include the presence of guides and co-guides, to ensure that someone is around to offer assistance and guidance, even encouragement when it is needed! While the trail is safe and marked, Lama also stresses that parents need to understand that the hike is definitely a physically challenging one, as this is not a touristy camping trip. Everyone is expected to chip in and do their part, and even clean up after him- or herself. Lama’s three girls, for instance, accompanied her on a recent trip, taking on the same marked trail. They recalled that the trail was difficult, but so much fun, even interrupting their mother to ask her during our interview about when their next trip to Oman would be.
If you’re wondering about the duration of the actual trail, it takes about four hours to start the trail that ends at the village and return back to the initial campsite. Lama said that all 20 participants succeeded in completing the trail, and we think that you and your little ones will also be able to do it.
What is the most ridiculous question you’ve ever been asked?
When going on excursions, camping, hiking, canyoning, people ask: How do we go to the bathroom?
What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
Exploring a wadi (valley) and walking into a cave where bats started flying out, like butterflies!
What is your theme song?
“Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol.
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?
Anywhere I can be outdoors, close to the sea, close to a mountain, climbing, jumping off cliffs, sleeping under the stars and maybe have a break and spend a month in Manhattan! I would love to retire in Boulder, Colorado. There are no words to describe it but I lived there for 5 years. Maybe I should choose a place halfway from home, like Sweden.
What is the first famous quote that comes to your mind?
Things do not change; we change.
What animal best describes the kind of partner you’d be interested in?
What do you miss about your childhood?
Nothing, I’m still living it!
If you could change your name, what would you change it to?
How would you describe your handshake in one word?
I don’t do handshakes, I prefer hugs.
What is the toughest part of your character?
Some say I nag, I call it persistence.
Who is your favorite historical figure?
Henry David Thoreau.
What in the world do you least desire?
What do you think is lacking in the world, which if there was more of would make the world a better place?
People not giving up on what they believe and fighting for the people who cannot fight for themselves.
Why do you think most girls/guys like you?
My friends replied to this: “Because you’re a free spirit. You’re fun, down to Earth, you’re healthy and work out. You take everything with a positive manner, and you make excellent sweet potato.”
Finish this sentence: “Happiness is a thing called…”
Joah, Leen, and Zina.