AlAfeefi becomes first UAE woman ATC officer
Abu Dhabi, July 3, 2011
Noufa AlAfeefi, a 22-year-old trainee at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), has become the first UAE woman Air Traffic Control (ATC) area officer after completing an extensive three-year training program.
AlAfeefi received the UAE Air Traffic Control Area Certificate from the GCAA to start her work at the Sheikh Zayed Air Navigation Centre, the region’s largest and most hitech air traffic control centre.
AlAfeefi also has several academic qualifications to her credit including a certificate in Air Traffic Control from Christchurch, New Zealand, where she studied ICAO subjects and received the ICAO 051 and 052 Aerodrome certificates, ICAO 054 Area Control Radar certificate and ICAO 055 Area Control Non-Radar.
“ATC had always been a male dominated aspect, and for a woman to work in the field is a huge challenge. It became more complicated considering the fact that I was the first UAE woman to apply for this job in GCAA and succeed in such an early age of 22,” pointed out an excited AlAfeefi.
'Training was hard and required huge efforts. Being the only female trainee among men was not a familiar thing and I was not taken seriously. But my determination and efforts were soon appreciated by my colleagues, and I was accepted as one of them,' she said.
'I was really lucky to work with a great team that extended much need help and support,” she added.
Speaking on the challenges, AlAfeefi said, 'The most difficult thing was working in shifts at various times of the day, which meant I needed to keep full focus in all times. Another challenge was the live training, where any slight mistake could have been catastrophic and cause fatalities.”
On her choice of this male dominated field, she said, 'I have always been fascinated by large planes in the sky since I was a little child, and always dreamed of flying aboard one of them. After graduation, I pursued this dream more seriously, with Air Traffic field, which came inline with my realization of the high complicacy of the global aviation sector and the relevant challenges.'
'This made me even more determined, and I knew that was the career I want to pursue. Luckily for me, the GCAA was encouraging the UAE youth to apply for job vacancies, so I seized the opportunity which appeared to be my only and best chance,' said the proud Emirati.
AlAfeefi said the UAE government continued to encourage Emirati women by providing them with the best education and career growth and urged fellow women to seize the opportunity offered by the General Civil Aviation Authority to prove themselves and make their nation proud of them.
Commenting on her achievement, Saif Mohamed Al Suwaidi, director general of the GCAA, said: “We have set key fundamentals to encourage nationals to join us and work at the various departments, as we believe the sector needs support of nationals to realize its great potentials for a promising future, thanks to the tremendous growth here.'
'From the beginning, we have opened the door to all Emiratis - both male and female - to join and prove their abilities without any difference or discrimination,' he added.
Ahmad Ibrahim al Jallaf, acting executive director Air Navigation Services at GCAA, said AlAfeefi completed intensive and long training programs, and showed a great deal of determination, challenge and desire to undertake the responsibilities of such a career to serve her nation.
'In this regard, we would like to assert that the way is open to all nationals willing to serve their country by working in the civil aviation sector,” he added.-TradeArabia News Service