A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

UAE's First Woman Pilot was Squadron Leader for Syrian Airstrikes

It may be a public relations gesture, but it's the kind that gets media attention: The UAE's first female combat pilot flew as a team leader in the airstrikes against Syria.

The National
Major Mariam Al Mansouri, who is an F-16 Squadron Leader, has been the focus of media attention before, including in 2008 when the first women pilots graduated from the Air Force Academy, and earlier this year in a profile in Abu Dhabi's The National, when she was profiled as the first woman operational F-16 pilot.

Its good PR for an increasingly assertive UAE Air Force. They're too polite to say it, but I'm sure I'm not the only one to think, "In Saudi Arabia women still can't drive; in the UAE they drive F-16E/F Block 60s to bomb ISIS."

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