First Saudi Female Pilot Wish: To Fly a Commercial Airliner
The first female pilot of Saudi Arabia Hanadi Zakaria Al Hindi expressed her desire to work as an airline captain in the Middle East after serving as a pilot for the one of the world’s wealthiest businessmen. Hanadi Zakaria Al Hindi says that is her dream to fly a commercial aircraft after making history of becoming the first woman to get a pilot license in her country ten years ago.
The 37-year-old has worked for Prince Al Waleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Al Saud who had made a global headline when buying and then customizing an Airbus A380 superjumbo jet. Since then she had been flying aircraft in his company’s fleet. The prince who she worked for is one of the world’s richest men and he shown commitment his efforts to support women’s education and will be sponsoring her training. Al Hindi is one of the just two Saudi women to hold flying licenses but yet cannot drive on road under the kingdom’s Conservative laws.
Al Hindi told that she has been missing the cockpit so much for which her passion is always to keep flying and dreaming to be a commercial pilot during her 7 days visit to the Airport Show in Dubai this week. She was brought in together with all pilots across the world while attending the Arab Women in Aviation forum.
As she was asked to consider a position with a UAE airline such as Emirates or Etihad, she replied she would be happy to grab any opportunity but would preferably ideally fly for her own national flag carrier Saudia. She enlightened the fact that she had been struggling so much and it took her a lot of time to get approved by the government of Saudi Arabia and now she is still struggling to get a job in her own Saudia. However, Al Hindi said she owes her success to Saudi business magnate Prince Al Waleed, who she said supported her from the very beginning.
She believes him to be her biggest supporter, after her father. She added she owed him a lot and dedicated her success to him. She is also aware of the irony of being able to fly but not drive where Saudi is the only country in the world to ban women from being behind the wheel of a vehicle but said she does not feel it has held her back.
“It’s better to have a driver – you don’t have to go through all the headaches to be somewhere and find parking,” she joked.
“Flying airplanes is a profession. Driving cars are not the biggest issue (for women) in the country.”
Al Hindi had almost given up on her dream to become a commercial pilot after leaving the prince’s private fleet, but during her attendance in this week’s event, her dedicated passion for flying came back.
“This event comes at just the right time,” Al Hindi said. “I was almost changing my path, but the forum made me realize my passion is flying. I just need to fly. Pioneers face many challenges and obstacles, but we are paving the way for future generations,” she said.
“We have to be strong and follow our dreams because there are no boundaries. There’s no difference between men and women everywhere, not only in the Arab world.”