We often hear about male adventurers undertaking extreme physical challenges, but this is a different story. Local rock climber Ghida Arnaout has an inspiring journey that brought her to being featured on many world-famous publications.
She’s always been an adventure nut and has come a long way in representing powerful Lebanese women worldwide, and it’s epitomized in her 2019 Vogue Arabia feature.
We reached out to Ghida to learn more about how she accomplished her viral status.
Born and raised in Sidon, south of Lebanon, Ghida Arnaout has been active and adventurous since forever. She was part of her university’s hiking club and took part in 2009 in an obstacle course TV show in Argentina called Wipe Out.
She has been rock climbing for the past couple of years and shares her trips on Instagram. However, the experience that led her to begin rock climbing wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies.
The adventurous free soul opened up about a past injury and the depression it brought her. It was the event that changed the course of her life; it made her realize her love for the outdoors.
“While I was celebrating the New Year of 2013 in Madrid, I had an accident that ended up not only breaking my hip, but also changing my life,” Ghida told us.
“I had to do immediate surgery there to get 3 screws in the fracture, and for 4 months I was bedridden and on a wheelchair. I also lost my job in the process. I was depending on my friends to do everything, I was hit with anxiety and so depressed,” she revealed.
When her doctor told her she could start walking again, she recalled having an urge to leave her comfort zone and go somewhere, so she booked a plane ticket and went solo to Nepal. “I fell in love with its mountains and its people,” she said.
Post-Recovery & Rock Climbing
In a way, rock climbing was how she reclaimed her body after her injury. When her hip had healed completely, she went with some friends on a rock climbing trip in Dubai. “It was a way to break this anxiety circle I’ve been caught in. I thought what could be more uncomfortable than hanging on a rope?”
Her interest in rock climbing advanced at that point. She recounted, “All I wanted to do was be outdoors. So I focused more on adventure travel and then did my own adventure travel TV show called Pulse of Adventure with Quest Arabiya.”
After being featured several times in magazines, she gained the public’s attention, including Vogue Magazine’s. Ghida modeled for Vogue Arabia’s 2019 July-August release, and she did so in the most epic way: while rock climbing in a gown.
She has undeniably become a symbolic representation of women’s power. She is not only an advocate of physical strength and health but also mental health.
Ghida opens up about her journey with anxiety, hoping her story will help others cope as well. She says: “Health and wellbeing to me are way beyond physical fitness only. It’s about taking care of your mental health and state just as much as you take care of your body!”
“I have always been a person who never abided by the norms and who loved taking risks and doing crazy things. I guess it was my way to break out of the society I was raised in, where it was expected of a girl to graduate, work, and find a good partner to create a family. I always wanted to do the opposite of what society expected of me.”
“I have been to almost 35 countries and since my incident, my travels always include an adventure aspect,” she said. You won’t see her in a crowd of tourists.
“I have climbed the highest mountain in Morocco, deep water soloed in Oman, abseiled Balou Balaa in Lebanon in the winter, kayaked in the Arctic, trekked in Nepal, rock climbed in Thailand… to name a few. This was what satisfied me. It was my therapy,” she expressed.
Now, she and her partner are working on a platform that will organize adventures for first tie explorers. So, you know how to relieve stress after quarantine!
Life Happens Outdoors
In 2015, Ghida’s fiancé Rami founded Life Happens Outdoors that was originally supposed to be an app that will connect outdoorsy people together. When people saw the couple’s adventures on social media, they began requesting that Ghida and Rami plan trips for them.
“In the beginning, it was a way for us to fund the app but then the whole business model changed and Life Happens Outdoors became the adventure travel community for the first time explorer,” she said.
“Our aim from it was to bring the outdoors closer to everyone. If you’ve never been to the outdoors, it might be overwhelming,” she explained.
“We wanted to be your community to teach you everything about the outdoors, and be your support system if you want to just experience a light trek, or actually learn all the mountaineering techniques to help you climb your first alpine mountain.”
In 2018, she quit her job as a social media manager in Saatchi and Saatchi and she and Rami “launched around 15 unique trips that vary from trekking to Macchu Picchu to ice climbing in Georgia to visiting temples in Bhutan to name a few”.
“Rami and I have personally led each one of those trips. We are very proud of our community,” she expressed.
Editor’s Note: The original headline has been changed since Ghida was featured in Vogue Arabia, but not on the cover.