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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: The Saudi aviation industry is anticipated to create some 1.2 million job opportunities over the coming two decades to meet the “boom” in the sector, according to an aviation expert.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Saudi Airport Exhibition, held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, Mervat Sultan, president of the Women in Aviation Middle East Chapter, also emphasized the equal role women can play in the aviation industry.
She stated that her organization is committed to raising public awareness about the myriad roles women can undertake in the aviation industry.
“They can easily participate and be part of this industry. The most important part is to educate, train, and then show them the direction to what part they can participate in,” said Sultan.
She mentioned that the only way they could achieve this was through collaboration between the private and government sectors, as well as organizations like theirs, emphasizing that they possessed the know-how and capability to accomplish it.
She added that organizations could bring both sectors together and inform them that the industry needs 100,000 pilots, for instance. “We urge them to guide the universities to give more attention to their piloting programs than the engineering ones,” Sultan emphasized.
“In this way, we have the workforce when we need them. When we have the aircraft ready, we have the workforce to go on board and fly them, perform the engineering and maintenance work on the aircraft, engage in ground handling services, fueling, or even management.”
Speaking about the aviation industry in Saudi Arabia, Sultan noted a significant boom, with an increase in airports, establishment of new airlines, and a rising number of tourists.
According to her, this surge in demand for more airlines is evident, painting a clear picture that the aviation industry in Saudi Arabia is growing significantly and is poised to lead the industry in the coming 20 years.
Statistics showed a 126 percent industry growth in Saudi Arabia, contributing to an $82 billion revenue, and Sultan anticipated the creation of 1.2 million new jobs to support this growth.
While emphasizing that the aviation industry knows no gender-specific challenges, she highlighted the need for increased awareness and information dissemination.
Sultan, one of the first women in the Arab world to obtain an FAA GCAA flight dispatch license, emphasized that the aviation industry presents no challenges for women but rather opportunities that one can either seize or miss.
She underscored the importance of scholarships and internships for the new generation, calling for support from both the government and private sectors.
Addressing gender equality in the industry, Sultan stated that both men and women are equally capable of contributing to the aviation sector, leveraging technological advancements that have minimized physical requirements.
She concluded by stressing the need for continuous support from both government and private sectors to fulfill the mission of empowering women in the aviation industry and showcasing the diverse roles available.
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