Manama: Although she has been “unemployed” for three years now, Saudi pilot Yasmeen Mohammad Al Maimani has high hopes for the opportunity to fly a plane for Saudia, the kingdom’s national carrier.
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Yasmeen made history by becoming in 2014 the second Saudi woman to receive a commercial pilot license from the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA).
“My greatest dream was to become a pilot and my family fully supported me,” Yasmeen said. “My high school average was high and I could join some of the best universities to study medicine or architecture. However, the dream of sitting in a cockpit and soaring high in the sky was a potent and sweet dream that truly overwhelmed me.”
The family went along and they supported Yasmeen in all ways as she headed to Jordan where she joined a private aviation academy.
“I obtained my private pilot licence after one year and went back home to Saudi Arabia where my attempts to get recruited by an airliner failed,” Yasmeen told Saudi daily Okaz. “I took up an administrative position in Rabigh Wings Aviation Academy and I became the head of pilots, but I did not fly any plane.”
Driven by her dream and determined to make it come true, she continued with her studies and training.
Yasmeen said that she received an offer from a US flight academy to be their representative in the Arabian Gulf.
“I accepted the offer and they later gave me half scholarship to study for a commercial pilot licence. I accepted the offer and I was able to finish my studies one a half years and obtain the licence. I returned home in 2013 upon my graduation and the GACA endorsed my licence. I was looking forward to piloting a Saudia plane after I was duly certified by the Saudi authorities to fly a plane, but I am still waiting.”
Around 500 Saudi women are employed by Saudia, mainly in the financial and IT departments and reservation section. However, none of them are pilots.
Last week, Saudia denied online reports that it was planning to send Saudi women abroad to study to become pilots.