The move comes one month after Saudi women were granted the right to drive.

A flight school in Saudi Arabia is going to start admitting female students, just one month after the kingdom lifted its ban on women driving.

Oxford Aviation Academy’s new branch in Dammam has received hundreds of applications from women hoping to begin their training in September, Reuters reported.

The academy, which operates from King Fahad International Airport, is the first of its kind in the kingdom to train both men and women of Saudi and non-Saudi origin.

“People used to travel abroad, which was difficult for women more than men,” aspiring pilot Dalal Yashar told Reuters.

 

“We are no longer living in the era were women were allowed [to work] in limited arenas. All avenues are now opened for women. If you have the appetite, you have the ability,” she said.

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Oxford Aviation Academy’s MENA Region Director General Col. Othman Al-Mitairi told the Saudi Gazette back in November men and women would be taught the same curriculum, and they hoped to eventually have female instructors and aviation trainers in the academy.

“Only 40 per cent of pilots in the Saudi job market are Saudis and only two of them are women. We aspire to have 60,000 pilots and technicians over the next 20 years,” Al-Mitairi said.

Last year it was reported that Saudia, the national carrier airline of Saudi Arabia, was looking into sending women abroad on scholarships so they could train to become pilots.

Captain Hanadi Zakaria Hindi made history when she became Saudi Arabia’s first female pilot. She studied at Jordan’s Middle East Academy of Aviation, passing her final exams in 2005.

While she obtained her commercial pilot’s licence in 2006, she wasn’t certified to fly within Saudi Arabia until 2013, when she received a licence from the Jeddah-based General Authority of Civil Aviation.

Though she has received job offers from airlines all over the world, she only wants to work in her home country.

“For Saudi female pilots… I’m responsible for paving the way,” she said in an interview with Destination Jeddah last year.

“That’s one of the reasons I won’t accept an offer from outside the country. As the first female pilot, if I leave, who is going to fight? Who is going to open the door for others?”

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