Saudi Arabia issues first pilot’s licence to a woman - newspaper

by Magda Mis | @magdalenamis1 | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 25 April 2014 10:45 GMT

In this 2007 file photo, women walk past an empty coffee shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. REUTERS/Ali Jarekji

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Pilot's licence is a first for women in conservative Saudi Arabia, latest small step towards equality - though they still cannot drive cars

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Saudi Arabia, where women are banned from driving cars, has issued its first flying licence to a female pilot, Arab News reported.

Hanadi Al-Hindi, 35, obtained her licence from the kingdom’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA), she told the Saudi newspaper by phone from the United States.

Al-Hindi already had a “Commercial Pilot’s Licence” (CPL) and an “Instrument Rating” (IR) from the Jordanian Mid-East Aviation Academy. She became Saudi Arabia’s first female pilot after being hired by the Saudi Kingdom Holding Company - but was not allowed to fly in her own country because she had no Saudi licence, according to the Saudi Gazette.

“I was not registered (before) as a pilot with the General Authority of Civil Aviation, which is why I was not able to fly in my country, and that was really difficult, being a pilot who cannot fly in her own country,” it reported Al-Hindi as saying.

The patriarchal kingdom is often criticised by human rights groups over the many restrictions imposed on its women, but opportunities are gradually opening up for Saudi women in the business world.

In March Sarah Al-Suhaimi became the first female chief executive of an investment bank in the kingdom and in 2013 the Ministry of Justice licensed the first four women attorneys in the kingdom to practise law.

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