Female Saudi pilot flies high

Updated 29 April 2014
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Female Saudi pilot flies high

A Saudi woman has become the first licensed female pilot in the Kingdom.
Thirty-five-year-old Hanadi Al-Hindi, who had battled kidney problems, acquired licensing from the Jeddah-based General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) to fly planes in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Hindi, who wears a headscarf, has begun flying small and wide-bodied luxury planes belonging to a fleet from the Kingdom Holding Company (KHC).
Khaled Al-Khaibary, a GACA spokesman, neither confirmed nor denied awarding the license to Al-Hindi, saying he would verify the information on Monday.
Al-Hindi, however, confirmed receipt of the license via telephone from the United States.
“Saudi women are capable of taking on any job previously held exclusively by men in Saudi Arabia,” she said.
Al-Hindi refused to divulge anymore information owing to contractual obligations and sensitivity surrounding the topic.
“I have, however, taken on a private initiative to counsel Saudi students in the US who are willing to pursue a career in aviation,” said Al-Hindi, who acquired a “Commercial Pilot’s License” (CPL) and an “Instrument Rating” (IR) from the Amman-based Mideast Aviation Academy in 2002. “Exciting opportunities await candidates in this field.”
Al-Hindi became the Kingdom’s first woman pilot after being hired by Kingdom Holding Company Chairman Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. She became something of a celebrity after gaining her commercial pilot’s license way back in 2006.
Al-Hindi said that she was proud of herself and her family for supporting her in choosing this career.
Born and raised in Makkah, Al-Hindi faced opposition from her relatives after she decided to become a pilot.
Al-Hindi described her first solo flight in 2004 as the beginning of her dream career. “Two days after my solo flight, I discovered that my name was being mentioned all over the world and that I had become a celebrity,” she said in an earlier interview with Arab News.


First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

Updated 17 July 2019
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First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.