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In the Middle East, women can fly

Women can’t drive, but they can fly. Go figure. The UAE government, which has publicly praised women’s contributions to society and encouraged the private sector to give them every opportunity to succeed, was especially supportive of Sultan’s dream to launch a WAI chapter. “People from the outside think that women in this part of the world are limited in choices, but that’s wrong,” said Mervat Sultan, one of the first Emirati women to obtain a flight dispatcher’s license. She also holds a PPL and serves as finance manager for RamJet Aviation Support, based in Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. “The choices open to women are the same as for men. We, all of us, are the same.” Men and women also receive the same encouragement to pursue careers in aviation, Sultan said. “In the UAE, we receive the same support as men, from the government and from our families,” Sultan said. “There is no difference. I’ve never faced any problems here.” Aviation in the Middle East isn’t just growing, it’s booming–and women have every opportunity to join the ranks, according to the president of the Emirates chapter of Women in Aviation, International (WAI). The newly launched WAI-Emirates chapter is the first of its kind in the Gulf region. To date, there are no other organizations that support women in aviation, Sultan said. One of the goals of the new chapter is to introduce Middle Eastern women to all aspects of aviation, and to encourage them to look beyond the obvious career paths. As Sultan explained, people often think that the only career choices are those of pilot, flight attendant or ticketing agent, which is wrong, she said.

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