On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's General Authority for Civil Aviation issued pilot licenses to five Saudi women, who are now all set to head the cockpits of commercial flights, Okaz newspaper reported. In a statement to the local paper, the authority explained that the move comes as part of a plan to empower women in the aviation field.
Even though several Saudi women had previously flown planes in and out of the kingdom using international licenses, this is the first time local permits are issued for Saudi women.
One of the five women to be granted the Saudi license, Yasmine Al Maymany, had replaced an international permit she held with a local one in 2013 but said she still couldn't find a job in her country because she's a woman.
Al Maymany had made strides in the international aviation industry
Speaking to Al Arabiya, the seasoned pilot said she had previously completed "300 hours of flying practice in the United States after getting her qualifications in Jordan".
However, that didn't allow her to realize her dream of landing a piloting job in her own country.
“I have a government license, and I have all the requirements needed for the job, however, we did not get the opportunity to work. I knocked many doors for a job, but the refusal is still going on under the pretext that women’s jobs as female captain do not exist, even though there are training institutes on aviation and there are institutes in Jeddah and Dammam," she said.
Al Maymany also added that even though she got offers from Gulf airlines, she rejected them because she wanted to launch her regional career in the kingdom. The pilot now hopes that with support from the kingdom's aviation authority, she and other skilled professionals can finally realize their dreams.
The latest news is now all over Saudi Twitter
While some reacted to it with misogynistic things like this
"Are there no more men left? It isn't necessary for women to fly planes."
Others couldn't be more excited and proud of these exceptional women
"Keep advancing, my country. So proud of these women."
"Good luck girls"
The move comes during a triumphant year for Saudi women
Even though the kingdom continues to be criticized for several decisions it has made when it comes to women's rights, including the recent arrests of several prominent female activists, it made a few notable strides.
Last year, the kingdom took major steps to improve women's rights in the country, including issuing reformed laws governing child marriage, divorce, alimony, and the custody of children.
However, more still needs to be done to ensure that women in the kingdom receive all their basic rights.