Following gaining their right to drive in June 2018, Saudi women are now taking to the skies.
A flight school in the kingdom is opening its doors to women who wish to fly. Reuters reported that the newest branch of the Oxford Aviation Academy in Dammam has been receiving countless applications from women who hope to start training in September 2018.
The flight school operates from King Fahad International airport and is actually the first and only one in Saudi Arabia that trains both men and women from all nationalities. “People used to travel abroad, which was difficult for women more than men. We are no longer living in the era were women were allowed to work in limited arenas. All avenues are now opened for women. If you have the appetite, you have the ability,” said Dalal Yashar, who aspires to become a pilot, to Reuters.
MENA Region Director General, Col. Otheman Al Mitairi of the Oxford Aviation Academy, told press in November 2017, that both men and women would learn the same curriculum and female flight instructors and aviation trainers would be introduced at the academy. “Only 40 per cent of pilots in the Saudi job market are Saudis and only two of them are women. We aspire to have 60,000 pilots and technicians over the next 20 years,” Al-Mitairi said. It had been previously reported that the national airline of Saudi Arabia, Saudia, was hoping to offer Saudi women the opportunity of scholarships to train them to become pilots.
It was the kingdom’s very own Hanadi Zakaria Hindi who became the Arab country’s first female pilot, making history and inspiring other Saudi women to chase their dreams of flying. “For Saudi female pilots… I’m responsible for paving the way. That’s one of the reasons I won’t accept an offer from outside the country. As the first female pilot, if I leave, who is going to fight? Who is going to open the door for others?” She said in an interview with Destination Jeddah in 2017.
Even though Hindi had got her commercial pilot’s license in 2006, she wasn’t allowed to fly a plane within Saudi Arabia until 2013 when she finally received a license from the General Authority of Civil Aviation, in Jeddah. With many offers from airlines of various other countries, she only wanted to fly in Saudi Arabia.