Saudi Aviation Academy to train first women pilots

by Gulf | 18-07-2018 | 2830 views

Dammam: A flight School In Saudi Arabia is opening its doors for women, following the end of a decades- long driving ban in the deeply conservative Muslim country where many social restrictions are easing.

Oxford Aviation Academy, a leading trainer and recruiter, has already received applications from hundreds of women hoping to start lessons in September at a new branch in the Eastern city of Dammam.

"People used to travel abroad, which was difficult for women more than men," said applicant Dalal Yashar, who aspires to work as a civil pilot.

"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," she said.

The Academy is part of a $300 million project that includes a school for aircraft maintenance and an international centre for flight simulators at the airport.

Students receive 3 years of academic and practical training, said executive director Othman Al Moutairy. 

A decades-long ban on women driving, long seen as an Emblem of women's reppression in the country, was lifted last month, as part of sweeping reforms pushed by powerful young Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman aimed at transforming the economy and opening up its cloistered society.

The lifting of the prohibition was welcomed by western allies as proof of a new progressive trend in Saudi Arabia, but it has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including against some of the very activist who previously campaigned against the ban.

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