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This female Saudi pilot may never get off the runway


Hanadi Z. Al-Hindi, 24, hails from a conservative family in the holy city of Makkah. She recently received a civil aviation license at a ceremony in Amman — but she cannot even drive in her homeland of Saudi Arabia

“I see the hiring of this female pilot to work on Kingdom Holding’s fleet of private jets as a historic move for Saudi ladies. The move transcends the traditional role of Saudi women previously confined to working in the health, education and philanthropic sectors. I am in full support of Saudi ladies working in all fields.”

Prince Waleed Bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holding Company, on the hiring of Capt. Hanadi

One last missive before I leave, a followup to my earlier post on the first female Saudi pilot’s graduation from flight academy. I’m surprised it took this long for the “outraged religious clerics” stories to surface. Of course they need a fatwa against women flying planes (or even serving as flight attendants) to stop the destruction of Saudi society. The Saudi prince that hired her better watch his back.

Prince Waleed, who employed Captain Hanadi Zakaria to work for his company fleet of private jets, has been putting full-page advertisements in the local papers congratulating her for becoming the first Saudi woman to earn a commercial pilot’s licence.

Internet sites run by extremists and conservatives have been attacking plans to allow Saudi women to pilot aircraft, prompting a Saudi cleric to issue a fatwa making it unlawful for any woman to work as pilot. The cleric said this work would require the woman to travel alone without a mahram (male guardian) accompanying her and this would lead to women mixing with men which is not acceptable.

Shaikh Yousuf Al Ahmad, associate professor of Sharia at Imam Mohammad Bin Saud University in Riyadh, said in a statement that the contract signed by the Kingdom Holding Co. is unlawful and that women should never be allowed to work as pilots or air hostesses. He also ruled as unlawful the advertisements by the company.

Some info on the Prince:

Al-Waleed bin Talal grandson of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Saudi state, is emerging on the political scene in Saudi Arabia while continuing to lead his investment company, Kingdom Holding.

Al Waleed is estimated to be the fourth-richest man in the world is the most creative and successful man. His global empire comprises investments in many of world’s large Companies producing world brand goods and services, and estimated to be worth $21.5bn, according to Forbes Magazine.

Al-Waleed a progressive Arab voice in the Middle East has a reputation for intelligence and relentless work. He offered a $10m payment to New York City after September 11, which the then mayor Rudolph Giuliani turned down, but paid a similar sum to the American University in Cairo to support cross-cultural American-Arab studies.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding