4 Saudi women tell their stories of flying Saudi Aramco planes

Saudi Aramco frequently employs women to do a variety of tasks in a wide range of company locations, from offices and oil fields to laboratories.

As of the summer of this year, the company has employed four fully qualified female pilots, who are the first to be trained, sponsored, and operated by the company.

Pilots start flying

The four pilots, Fatima Al-Ghamdi, Dareen Al-Saleh, Arwa Al-Dakhil, and Ahlam Al-Subaie, join 180 fellow pilots.

They have spent the past two years studying at the University of North Dakota, USA. They had to take an intensive course and pass rigorous exams.

Saudi Aramco pilots carry about 800,000 employees and their family members every year.

 Darren talked about her training experience, saying: “Being a pilot is an exceptional and rewarding job, with every day a new challenge.”


Challenges & A Sense of Accomplishment

The Aviation Department of Saudi Aramco now offers female pilots a unique practical opportunity, especially those with engineering (civil and electrical) and computing qualifications.

 Women pilots, in addition to their leadership ambition and hard-working ability, are well-qualified to become the company’s leading female pilots.

Ahlam says, “In addition to obtaining a degree in civil engineering and working in this field, I had previously traveled to the UK… I felt as if my destiny had led me to do so.”

The four female captains found the course challenging and worked hard to excel as they became well-qualified pilots.

They had to face the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic while training and preparing for the enormous responsibility of the safety of their passengers.

Darren said, “The training has been enjoyable and memorable”.

She added, “Although multitasking in flight puts you under pressure, it’s satisfying. Once the flight is over, you can enjoy the experience.”

Fatima said “The sights, sounds, and sensations from the cockpit are indescribable.

She described the sight during the flight as “Not to mention witnessing the amazing natural phenomenon of sunset and sunrise colors evolving on partly cloudy days.”

The first steps of the flight

Pioneering female pilots open a new and exciting path for women.

Arwa believes that the opportunity has changed her life, as she is an engineer and never dreamed of becoming a pilot.

She had never been to the USA, before taking the course she said, “I can honestly say I never thought I’d be where I am today.”

 Fatima says, “I want to encourage others to take their first steps into the world of aviation.”

Fatima is still at Saudi Aramco, as well as being a qualified flight instructor who helps others achieve what they have.

Darren also hopes to be part of a movement to get more female employees qualified as pilots and to set her sights on flying internationally.

“This will add a lot to my experience and knowledge as a pilot, especially since every country has its own set of aviation regulations,” she said.

Women make up only 6% of the total number of pilots worldwide. However, Darren points out that women proved their abilities in the field of aviation a long time ago.

Darren referred to female aviation pioneers such as Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, and Amy Johnson, saying all world leaders in aviation “made me realize my capabilities.”

Ahlam says, “We make our way despite the obstacles, and I have always been proud of every woman who achieves her dreams and aspirations, especially Saudi women.”


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