First Saudi Female Pilot Lands Job with Kingdom Holding

RIYADH – The dreams of Capt. Hanadi Zakariya Hindi have found wings with the announcement made by Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal here yesterday that Hanadi Hindi has been hired by the Kingdom Holding Company (KHC). This will make Hanadi Hindi the first accredited female Saudi pilot to fly planes in Saudi Arabia, a country where women are not allowed to drive, when she takes to the skies next year.

In a telephone interview from Makkah after the formal announcement of Prince Alwaleed to hire her, Capt. Hanadi said: “Women are very capable of taking on any job previously monopolized by men.” Her statement is substantiated by the fact that she went on to take a Commercial Pilot’s License and an Instrument Rating (CPL and IR) from the same school – the Mideast Aviation Academy in Jordan. She said: “I will receive the commercial license within a few months from now.”

Capt. Hanadi, in a very emotional tone, thanked Prince Alwaleed, who has also been granting SR3,000 per month as scholarship for her studies in Amman. She said: “I will be hired by the Kingdom Holding Company initially for 10 years.

Commenting on the recruitment of Hindi as a pilot by his company, Prince Alwaleed said: “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.”

Alwaleed added: “The hiring of a female Saudi pilot is the first of its kind.”

Capt. Hanadi has been striving to achieve her lifetime dream to become the first Saudi woman pilot. She is currently finishing an advanced flight training program in Jordan and will be flying by mid-2005. Capt. Hanadi initially started out in the English Literature Department at a college in Makkah, where she stayed for two years before moving to Umm Al-Qura University. But she did not graduate, deciding instead to study aviation. She is the third sister in a family of four sisters and two brothers. Capt. Hanadi further stressed that “women in Saudi Arabia can – given the chance compete head on and excel.”

“Capt. Hanadi.” as she is already called, says she can understand the thinking behind the ban on women’ s driving in Saudi Arabia, but argues that flying is different. Capt. Hanadi said she had both “her parents and Prince Alwaleed to thank for being the first Saudi female pilot, as they were standing by her every step of the way.” She said the fact that she had been acknowledged as the first Saudi woman pilot by the Air Force’s Saqr Al- Jazira Aviation Museum in Riyadh, where her picture was on display until recently, amounted to “semi-official recognition’ by the government.

Asked how she nurtured this dream of becoming a pilot despite gender bias, Capt. Hanadi said: “It was a dream I had since I was a child and was waiting to be fulfilled. My mother and father were very supportive and they were always behind me, said the pilot, adding that “some of my friends were in favor, some were against the career I chose.”

Capt. Hanadi says she does not rule out marrying someone in the same line of work – a pilot who shares an endless fascination of flying. But she said: “I have no plans to marry in the near future despite the lace that all of my sisters are already married.

Add Comment