Saudi women reach for the skies, inspire fellow dreamers
Not long ago, working in aviation was somewhere near the bottom on the list of careers for Saudi women, until the country launched a number of reforms including female empowerment programmes. Now, they have broken into many professions which, for decades, remained dominated by men, including in aviation.
The number of Saudi female pilots has risen steadily, with three names standing out: Hanadi Zakaria Al-Hindi, the first female pilot to fly with a Saudi commercial pilot license; Rawia Al-Rifi, the first to fly the Airbus A320 internationally as a civil aircraft from the UAE;; and co-pilot Yasmin Al-Maimani, who was the first woman to co-pilot a commercial plane in Saudi Arabia. Such names were a source of inspiration to many young women pursuing a career in aviation.
Ghadir Mohammed, 23, a flight dispatcher with a diploma in aviation, told Arab News that she is keen on completing her studies to obtain a pilot license.
“I want to be a source of inspiration for those of my age. I have always been dreaming of achieving something special among my community and family, and I want to make them both proud,” she added.
Raghad Mohdher, 26, has been dreaming of working in aviation since she was only 10, when she was inspired by her father, who used to tell her all about airplanes during their trips to the airport where he used to work.
She is now a flight dispatcher. “Since that day, I felt like this is my place and where I want to work,” she said.
Taking responsibility to plan flights and make decisions with pilots to ensure passengers arrive safely was something Mohdher was passionate about. “I am managing the daily decision-making process according to data about the airplane, the airport, and the weather.”
Laila Ibrahim, an 18-year-old student, finds herself fascinated by aviation as it combines physics and engineering, two fields she is interested in the most.
She told Arab News that she is eyeing the Sports Pilot Certificate from the Oxford Saudi Academy and hopes “to participate in aviation competitions” in future.
Inside the corridors of Flyadeal airline, everything looks vibrant.
The company’s 56 Saudi female employees have succeeded in establishing and launching the latest low-cost airline in the country, by providing an ideal air travel service under the slogan “travel daily at the lowest prices.” Women have successfully managed to reach all departments of Flyadeal, onboard and on the ground, including in air operations, ground operations, human resources, marketing, finance, information technology, and others.
Over the past two years, the company has also doubled down on its initiatives towards empowering women, offering many employment opportunities, in addition to organizing many intensive training courses.
Maha Adnan, the company’s marketing director, said that she worked three years in the field of education, four years in information systems, and three years in graphic design before moving to the field of communications and marketing about 11 years ago.