This year, the Oxford Aviation Academy in the city of Dammam has opened its doors to female students seeking to become pilots. The academy has already received hundreds of applications for enrollment.
Dalia Yashar, one of the first Saudi students to register to become a commercial pilot, said that people used to travel abroad to study aviation and it was easier for men to do that rather than women. However, times are changing.
“We are no longer living in the era where women were allowed [to work] in limited arenas. All avenues are now opened for women. If you have the appetite, you have the ability,” Dalia was reported by Reuters as saying.
Students enrolling at the academy receive three years of academic and practical training, according to the executive director, Othman al-Moutairy.
The announcement comes amid an ongoing progressive push by the country’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, whose decree permitting Saudi women to drive cars came into force only last month, lifting the country’s decades-long ban on female drivers.
The move is part of a national transformation project known as Vision 2030. The reforms are set to decrease the kingdom's dependence on oil revenues and boost the private sector. However, the UN is still raising the alarm over what it calls human rights abuse in the conservative state.