While the conservative laws of Saudi Arabia continue to restrict its women from driving, the edict does not seem to deter them from touching the skies. In what can only be described as a moment of pride and joy, the first ever all-female flight deck crew for Royal Brunei Airlines successfully flew a plane from Brunei to Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia, inspiring generations of women in the Middle-East nation.
The achievement coincided with Brunei’s National Day, 23rd February, which celebrates the country's independence from the United Kingdom. The flight crew consisted of captain Sharifah Czarena Surainy, senior first officer Dk Nadiah Pg Khashiem, and senior first officer Sariana Nordin.
Women ventured into this field in Saudi Arabia 3 years ago when captain Sharifah Czarena Surainy became the first female captain of a flag carrier. She is also the first woman flag carrier in Southeast Asia.
On this proud day, she said, “As a woman, a Bruneian woman, it is such a great achievement. It’s really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it.”
The male guardianship laws in Saudi Arabia deny freedom to women in a lot of areas, including driving. The laws are so repressive that a few women, including one who ran for the office, were arrested and jailed for publicly defying the law. But this achievement has given momentum to the movement which demands the lifting of these restrictions.
This feat of these wonderful women will definitely encourage others in the desert kingdom to assume the roles of leadership.
Fly high, ladies!