When Arab women soar to new heights
At the 16th edition of the Airport Show in Dubai there was no dearth of Arab women who are breaking records and crushing barriers in the aviation industry. From pilots and technical engineers to women in management, they gathered at the ‘Women in Aviation’ segment to help inspire the next generation of young women in the Middle East.
At the 16th edition of the Airport Show in Dubai there was no dearth of Arab women who are breaking records and crushing barriers in the aviation industry. From pilots and technical engineers to women in management, they gathered together at the ‘Women in Aviation’ segment to help inspire the next generation of young women in the Middle East.
|Dr Nadia Bastaki, is the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in aviation medicine.|
Dr Nadia Bastaki, Vice President, Medical Services at Etihad Airways, is the first Emirati woman to be registered as a specialist in aviation medicine, which deals with preventive or occupational medicine for pilots, aircrews, or persons involved in space flight.
“The challenges I faced in the beginning was getting into the aviation field itself. I always asked myself how can I be different in a world where there are so many successful women in the medical field? What would make me stand out and what would take me to the next level.”
And it wasn’t an easy journey for her, she said.
“I had to work day and night, I didn’t stop. I graduated in 2007, then I specialized again in occupational medicine after that I specialized in aviation and got my private pilot license. I also did a leadership course at Harvard University,” she added.
Dr Bastaki takes her responsibilities as a role model very seriously. According to her, encouraging women is paramount. Her advice to young women is “don’t limit your scope, go beyond your field.”
|Suaad Al Shamsi is the first female Emirati aircraft engineer.|
Speaking specifically to Emirati women, Dr Bastaki’s message is to never quit.
“We need to prove that we can deliver what is expected of us when we’re married, or pregnant.”
For Suaad Al Shamsi, the first female UAE aircraft engineer, the future for women in aviation is immense and their roles are only going to grow further.
“The UAE is prime example for women in leadership roles. Aviation is a growing field. It is challenging and we women need to keep learning keep educating ourselves,” she said to Khaleej Times.
|Talar Faiq is the CEO of Erbil International and the only woman to head an airport in the Middle East.|
Talar Faiq – the CEO of Erbil International and the only woman to head an airport in the Middle East – the key is determination. According to her, gender plays a very minimal role when it comes to the aviation industry.
“It’s the determination a woman has to excel in her field. As you know in our culture it’s not easy for men to accept the idea of women leading them because there are such few examples. The issue is not about gender, it’s about personal ability,” she said. “This is not a job that needs to have a specific gender. My position needs someone who can make decisions and make them quickly.
“Women can do just as well in this field, maybe even better than the men,” she added.
|Royal Jordanian Airline pilot Alia Twal.|
Another female aviation pioneer, Royal Jordanian Airline pilot Alia Twal, said it was a struggle for her to shatter the glass ceiling at the age of 16.
‘I fought with my family, even my neighbours! They all told me I should be doing something else. In the end it took me one year to convince them that I would not be anything other than a pilot. That was my only challenge.”
“The Middle East is booming and moving up the ladder very fast, just look at Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways. There are a lot more female pilots than there were before. I don’t look at myself as a woman. When I put my uniform on my gender doesn’t matter. Now people are proud to see Arab women fly and see that they are successful; it’s good for women and women in Arab countries.”