Riyadh-based airline, Flynas, has announced plans to recruit Saudi women as co-pilots and flight attendants for the first time. The news was met with overwhelmingly positive reaction from Saudi women.
Almost 1,000 Saudi women gave their application for the position of co-pilot with Flynas in the past 24 hours, the airline’s spokesman told AFP, as the ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom seems to relax some of its gender restrictions.
In its call for application, the low-cost airline said it was “keen to empower Saudi women to play an important role in the kingdom's transformation.”
“Women... are an essential part of the airline’s success,” the statement said.
Saudi women are not legally banned from working in the aviation industry but jobs as flight attendants have mostly been held by foreign women, including Filipinos.
The recruitment announcement came days after Flyadeal, another low-budget Saudi carrier, posted it wanted Saudi women to work as flight attendants.
The move is part of the Gulf kingdom’s “Saudinization” process and comes just months after Saudi Arabia lifted a long-standing ban on women driving cars. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” seeks to improve Saudi women participation in the work force even as they still require permission from their male guardians to get jobs, travel or get married, under the kingdom’s patriarchal laws.
However, the lifting of the driving ban in June was accompanied by a wave of arrests of some of the prominent female activists who have been fighting for this very cause for years, including Samar Badawi, the sister of Saudi dissident Raif Badawi, along with Nassima al-Sada, Aziza al-Yousef, Loujain al-Hathloul, Eman al-Nafjan and several more.
The kingdom is also seeking the death penalty for five human rights activist, including Israa al-Ghomgham, a Shiite activist, who was arrested with her husband in 2015. She will be tried in the country’s terrorism tribunal even though her charges relate to peaceful activism.
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