Lebanese rock climbing enthusiast Ghida Arnaout co-hosts Quest Arabiya 's new adventure-travel show "Nabd Al Moghamara" (Pulse of Adventure). Along with co-host Hussein Gazzazz, a Saudi-Egyptian skydiving fanatic, Arnaout has traveled throughout the Middle East and North Africa to showcase the best adventure destinations the region has to offer.
On the program, Arnaout and Gazzazz journey through stunning landscapes as they experience the most daring pursuits the region has to offer. Episodes include deep water diving, solo climbing in Oman, whitewater rafting in Morocco, snow paragliding in Lebanon and dune bashing in the United Arab Emirates.
The show launched on March 13 and we caught up with Ghida as she finished up filming for the final episodes of the new program. She talked with us about her passion for adventure, her background and some of the highlights of filming the new show.
Thanks for taking time from your busy production schedule to talk to us. Can you tell me a bit about your background? How did you get involved with extreme sports?
"I work as a social media manager at Saatchi and Saatchi and I run my music and outdoors blog 'MonkyseeMonkydo' where I post about my adventures and try my best to inspire people around me to get outdoors. I have always been a big adrenaline fan, but after a hip injury in 2013, which left me immobile for 3 months and prevented me from doing any kind of physical activity for a year, my love for extreme sports and the outdoors multiplied. Adventure and extreme sports are the two things that make me feel alive. I feel stronger when I put myself in challenging and sometimes dangerous situations, and the more I do it, the more I want to do it. It's like an addiction."
What is your personal favorite extreme sport?
"Rock Climbing! I fell in love with this sport the minute I tried it. And since then it has become an addiction. Wakeboarding is one of my favorite sports as well."
What are your favorite extreme sport destinations in the Middle East?
"I go to Oman a lot. There is a lot of climbing locations and nice camping areas. Lebanon as well, of course."
As a woman, do you feel that women are sometimes discouraged from getting involved in these kind of more extreme activities? Have you ever faced discouragement like that personally?
"Being raised in the Arab world, and regardless of how much women are aspiring and achieving, I still feel there is this misconception that women are not capable of taking care of themselves in the wilderness or traveling alone. A girl CAN actually set a fire and put up a tent on her own. When I decided to travel on my own to Nepal to explore the outdoors there, my family and friends were convinced I was crazy and no one really liked the idea. The thought of a girl traveling by herself to a country like that made them feel very uncomfortable. But I am a very stubborn person when it comes to the things I am convinced I have to do. So, I always do it anyway regardless of what anyone thinks."
What would you say to encourage more people to become involved in these kinds of activities?
"There's a phrase from a song I really love that says, 'The Universe was made just to be seen by my eyes.' I believe we are put on this earth to explore it. And as cliche as 'life is too short' might sound, it is actually very true. Life's responsibilities might distract us and we become lazy and keep saying one day we will do that. My hip injury made me realize and appreciate the simple act of just walking. Don't wait for a major incident to make you realize that. Go out there and do! I think the outdoors brings us back to our true essence."
Can you tell me a bit about filming this new series? What were some of the highlights for you?
"The series is about Hussein and I traveling around the MENA region looking for adventures and extreme sports. We have shot episodes in Dubai, Lebanon and Oman and Morocco. In each country we explore beautiful places, meet the experts and start our adventures. We are always surrounded with beautiful scenery from mountains to beaches, to sand dunes.
The highlights for me were definitely learning how to skydive and climbing the highest mountain in North Africa. I have done a tandem skydive six years ago, but once you are put under the responsibility of learning how to do it yourself and you're taking the decision to jump on your own [and] then landing yourself, it becomes very very different and scary. Climbing Mount Toubkal was beautiful but not an easy task at all. We had to climb 1,000 meters of steep snowy terrain using crampons in six hours to reach the summit, and I was so scared I might get altitude sickness. But once I reached the summit, I had a feeling I cannot describe by words."
What can we expect when we watch the show?
"Lots of adrenaline and beautiful scenery! I hope that me being on this show will inspire both men and women in the Arab region to get outdoors and explore the nature around us. I really believe that life happens outdoors and that the outdoors can change us to become better people."