Trailblazers Who Rule the Skies

dubai – The plane lifted slightly, the wind catching its body as it accelerated down the runway and, with UAE national Farah Mohammad at the helm of her first flight, the aircraft took off and the ground slowly fell away.

By Zoe Sinclair

Published: Fri 19 Sep 2008, 9:46 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:46 PM

That special first flight propelled the Umm Al Quwain resident to become qualified as the UAE’s first female Boeing pilot and into UAE’s aviation history. Farah’s achievement is an added bonus for Emirati women.

However, aviation at least, is a field where Emirati women in the UAE are making their mark. When Farah qualified to fly a Boeing 757 about three months ago, through her position with Ras Al Khaimah Airways, she was followed closely by another large jet pilot with Emirates.

Emirates’ Huda Saeed Al Musallami is the country’s first female to fly an Airbus.

Another Emirati woman, Captain Aysha Al Hamli, Senior Officer, is the country’s first pilot and is qualified to fly a smaller range of aircraft.

“I was interested in aviation since I was young ,” Farah said. “I thought let me try, let me try my luck, maybe I’ll become a pilot.”

Although she learnt to fly small aircraft while she was still completing high school, Farah’s career path wasn’t always clear to her. After studying software engineering in the United Kingdom for some time, she returned to work at Dubai International Airport.

“I didn’t realise I could become a pilot - that it could be my job,” she said.

But with the support of her father, who discovered flying schools in America for her, Farah completed an aviation diploma and received her pilot’s licence. Now, she is qualified for the Boeing 757 and is busy jetting passengers across RAK Airways routes.

RAK Airways chief pilot Captain Joachim Pforter highlighted that Farah’s achievement did not come as the result of an Emiratisation programme but simply that she walked through the airline’s doors at a time when licensed pilots were in high demand.

Trail blazers like Farah, especially with the support of family, business and government, point the way to success for women across the country, including female cadets currently training in Etihad Airways and Emirates airline.

Women who work in modest jobs have also some interesting stories of survival on their own in Dubai.

For Daisy Dabu, residing in Sharjah and a native of Nueva Ecija, a small town away from Philippines, life is hardly a bed of roses. Daisy’s ambitions of coming to the UAE was spurred when she lost her husband, and was left with the four children to bring up on her own. After a wait of two months and payment of Dh8,000, Daisy landed in the UAE on December 2006, only to find out that she had been jilted by the recruitment agency that had promised her a work visa, and on landing she found that she had a visit visa.

“There was no way I could go back; there were six others with me, and we were all placed in an apartment in Ajman. After a few odd jobs I got a job in a beauty saloon where I am now provided with a visa and a salary by which I can manage rent, food, and send some money home. UAE is a very tough place to be in, but I try my level best to survive because I believe hard work and perseverance can get you anywhere,” said a smiling Daisy.

Priya (name withheld at request) is a mother of three, and she and her husband have been living in Ajman for 18 years. An Indian national and without much education, Priya had no choice but to work under her current circumstances. “I have been working as a full-time housemaid for the last six years, and my husband works in Camel Race tracks. I work so that I can give my children the best education that I myself was deprived of. Working like this has not been easy, but I do it for my children.”

Priya came to the UAE in the hope of making a better future for herself and her family, but never did she dream that it would take her 18 long years to do so. “I do not mind working hard; it must have been something that I was fated to do, my health is failing me a little now, but I want to strive to give the best for my children.”`

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