Saudi Arabia: First woman to get pilot license

Hanadi al-Hindi Hindi was also the first Saudi woman ever to receive a pilot's licence

Saudi Arabia has issued its first flying licence to a female pilot, it appears.

Hanadi Al-Hindi, 35, has started flying small and wide-bodied luxury planes for the Kingdom Holding Company, owned by Saudi prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the newspaper Arab News reports.

Hanadi al-Hindi

Hindi was already a licenced pilot but until now she could not fly within in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia - but the prince's support helped her to get the certification she needed.

"That was really difficult, being a pilot who cannot fly in her own country," she says.

Hindi tells the Saudi Gazette it was her father's dream for one of his children to become a pilot.

When she applied to Jordan's Middle East Academy of Aviation in 2001, managers there were so surprised they asked her father if he was happy for her to pursue what was seen as a traditionally male career.

The flying licence was given to Hindi even though Saudi Arabia has a ban on female drivers. Women have long campaigned against the policy but in October a government spokesman explicitly restated women were still not allowed to drive there.

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