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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Emirati women are flying high in the aviation industry

Growing numbers of women have an eye on the sky as they set off on their career path

Nearly nine out of 10 of the Emirati workforce at Strata are women. Pawan Singh / The National
Nearly nine out of 10 of the Emirati workforce at Strata are women. Pawan Singh / The National

The sky is the limit for young Emirati women setting their sights on high-flying careers in the aviation industry.

Women wearing industrial goggles and gloves while constructing aeroplanes were given a glimpse into a future that is well within their grasp at the Mohamed bin Zayed Majilis for Future Generations event.

The hopefuls were taking part in a workshop hosted by Strata, an Al Ain-based plane parts manufacturer that already has a strong female presence in its ranks.

As a part of the challenge, the participants had to create aircraft models, ensuring they were strong and light, while simultaneously reducing costs.

Strata has seen great interest from Emirati women in joining the team - and employs many of them.

Ghubaisha Al Ameri, supply and quality engineer at Strata, said about 51 per cent of the employees at the company are Emirati and, of this number, 86 per cent are women.

In 2017, Etihad Aviation Group said 36 per cent of its 26,000-strong workforce were women.

“Women enjoy working in the manufacturing industry,” said Ms Al Ameri.

“It’s quite interesting to see a lot of women working with their hands manufacturing the parts for Airbus and Boeing.”

Strata manufactures airplane parts for Airbus A 380, A 330, A 350 as well as for Boeing 777 and 787.

“Strata is located in the middle of the desert and the efforts of Emirati women impress everyone who comes there,” she said.

The management of the organisation have made a concerted effort to inform women about the importance of the aerospace sector through training programmes, career fairs and shows at universities.

The organisation realised that Emirati women were very enthusiastic and excited to join the aerospace manufacturing industry - and capitalised on the opportunity.

“Once women started on the 22-month training programme, they wanted do join the workforce.”

But why are so many Emirati women so interested in working in this field?

“They like the fact that it’s non-traditional work. It’s not a regular job. They work on the shop floor and lay out the parts and do all the technical work that you wouldn’t expect them to do. That gives them enjoyment and pleasure,” said Ms Al Ameri.

“They say they feel very proud when they see an A 350 or A 380 and know they contributed to it.”

Shamma Al Zaabi, a 20-year-old avionics engineering student at Abu Dhabi Polytechnic, was busy at the workshop.

The student is working towards getting her European Aviation Safety Agency license.

“I really love challenges and that drew me to this sector. I will do anything to prove that Emirati women can do anything.

“Aviation is interesting and I love aircrafts as well as travelling and exploring.

“People always say work somewhere you love to work and you will never have to work again. This is something I love and I will enjoy this every day,” said Ms Al Zaabi.

Ms Al Zaabi is hoping to complete her master’s studies and work as a part of the Abu Dhabi airport management.

“Everyone has great memories of airports so I’m sure I will love working there. Everything is developing so why stay in the past?”

Reem Aloufi a 22-year-old Emirati graduated as an aircraft maintenance engineer this year.

“I love working with my hands. It was not common earlier but now many women are choosing to work in this sector. I see so many young Emirati women who are keen to work in this field,” she said.

“I love mechanical work. I will continue to study aviation and may want to become a pilot later.”

Alanoud AlBlooshi, a student at Higher Colleges of Technology in Abu Dhabi, was also at the workshop and said in the past, families were not as accepting of women working in the manufacturing industry.

“Now, we have this opportunity to work in aerospace manufacturing and aviation. Now, the parents are opening their minds to these options. Everyone from different parts of the globe are coming here and we need to know what’s happening in the world,” said Ms AlBlooshi.

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