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The first female pilot in Saudi Arabia

Here’s a story that I believe is inspirational and can help both men and women in aviation around the world to never loose sight of their goal. Capt. Hanadi Zakariya Hindi became the first female pilot in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s a story that I believe is inspirational and can help both men and women in aviation around the world to never loose sight of their goal. Capt. Hanadi Zakariya Hindi became the first female pilot in Saudi Arabia.
You may ask, what’s so special about this story. But, to put things in perspective, here is a short list things Saudi women are not allowed to do:

  • vote
  • venture into the public without being accompanied by a male guardian
  • hold political office
  • drive

In the Western World, these are regular everyday activities that go unnoticed, but in the Middle East the story is different.
So how did Capt. Hanadi Zakariya Hindi do it? She brought her case to the always interesting Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal a few years ago. The prince responded by sponsoring her flight school program in Jordan and then signing her up for a 10-year contract to fly for his Kingdom Holding Company.
The prince has repeatedly stated that she is “a real Muslim woman who has done nothing against the teachings of Islam.” This was necessary to combat the orthodox religious views held by the most Saudi men.
Hanadi obtained her commercial pilot certificate and instrument rating, then later, the European commercial pilot certificate and type certification of the Hawker 800 business jet.
By contrast, Amelia Earhart was a noted American aviation pioneer who set many records, including being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932.
Just one month ago, in a related story, Noufa AlAfeefi became the first United Arab Emirates female to certified and work as a UAE Area Controller. Contrasting again, Paula McAdam became the first female air traffic controller in my homeland before I entered the profession. Today, Paula is the Deputy Director of Civil Aviation in Guyana.

True to the words in the poem Desiderata, “life is full of heroism”. These women have and continue to be heroes that inspire us and the next generation of aviation professionals. Congratulations to all of them.
I’d love to hear about some of the first females in your country.

17 Responses

Armando Manuel

Hi Mr wayne,
Not sure yet if I doing the right thing but now I am trying to be in your blog so that I can exchange some comments.
Will get feedback if I am on course.


I love this story. inspirational indeed. Always something to interest anyone on your blog Wayne. Thanks

Wayne Farley

I’m always happy to share inspirational stories.


This is an inspiration to those lady pilot…Thanks for sharing Wayne..

Capt. Hanadi Zakariya Hindi - militant progressive Saudi muslim women

[…] The first female pilot in Saudi Arabia On 07.20.11, In General, by Wayne Farley […]


Nothing to say Wayne,,..she’s smart, probably..just two thumbs for her..Its inspired people who view this site..


Good for her! I am sure she will prove herself a highly valuable pilot in Saudi.


Ya Ukhti, Hanadi Zakariya Hindi, Ma sa Allah Alaiki.


Hi Wayne - Thanks for sharing the information. I am the first and only African American Female Aviation Accident Investigator/Analyst with the National Transportation Safety Board. I started my career as a military pilot for my home country Guyana, then flew for the Airline of my country Guyana Airways Corporation. I currently talk to kids especially minority kids to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Degrees as a career. We have to work with kids from elementary all the way through college. I enjoy volunteering and mentoring kids in pursuing aviation as a career.

Wayne Farley

Hi Beverley, Thanks for your comment. As a youngster in aviation in Guyana, I heard of all the pioneers including you. You have certainly led the way for many and for that I thank you. I do have some ambitious plans for aviation in Guyana and I believe that you can contribute in some way. I look forward to hearing more from you.


Sure Wayne, I would love to contribute to our beautiful country Guyana. You can email me and let’s stay in touch.

Wayne Farley

Beverley, thanks for your commitment. I shall contact you.

Karen Gray

Really inspirational story.


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check this out first Pakistani ladies

(first captain and pilot of airline)

(first air force lady CNN)

(first ladies army+ navy + air-force)

(first Pakistan navy ladies)

(first police lady in Pakistan)
sorry some of them i couldn’t find in English, its in Urdu Pakistan language.


(first police lady in pakistan)


finally i found in English

About Wayne Farley

I am Wayne, a career air traffic controller. Engage me while I share my thoughts, experience, and news from around the aviation world. A post titled “13 Characteristics of an Air Traffic Controller” written in 2010 went viral and established me as the unofficial ambassador of ATC.

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