My UAE: Ghada Al Rousi is a real high-flyer

Ghada Al Rousi was always an adventure-­seeker, so when she decided to make a career out of flying a plane, it wasn’t so out of character. “I have always been quite ambitious and adventurous,” she says. “When I was younger, I loved to go to entertainment parks, especially the ones with roller coasters and lots […]

Ghada Al Rousi was always an adventure-­seeker, so when she decided to make a career out of flying a plane, it wasn’t so out of character.

“I have always been quite ambitious and adventurous,” she says. “When I was younger, I loved to go to entertainment parks, especially the ones with roller coasters and lots of adrenaline. I remember my mother saying it’s dangerous and be careful, but for me, it was always OK.”

That spirit led her to flight school, and today, Al Rousi is a first officer with Air Arabia. “When I first entered a cockpit, I just felt like I can do it; it was a feeling that I didn’t necessarily feel when I was younger,” she says. “But when I felt that way, it was always in my mind that I wanted to do a pilot training course.”

Al Rousi was accepted by Alpha Aviation Academy in her home emirate of Sharjah, and went on to complete the 18-month Air Arabia Multi-Crew Pilot Licence programme, becoming its first female Emirati graduate.

Al Rousi wants to become a captain, but first she must become a ­senior first officer. “I still need more experience,” she says. “I need more hours; I need to make sure I am ready to be captain.”

She will be aided by her current flight schedule, which includes destinations such as Russia, ­Qatar, Bahrain, ­Pakistan, Kenya and Turkey. “Air Arabia has more than 100 destinations,” she says. “I’ve seen so many countries. I can’t count the number of places, but one of my favourites is London. I love it because anytime you want to go out for coffee, shopping or to a restaurant, you can go.”

Al Rousi believes the world needs more female pilots and encourages more Emirati women to consider the career path, but says she couldn’t have achieved what she has without her family.

“My family have always supported me,” she says. “My mum worries about me, but she never wanted me to stop doing this job.”

What’s your favourite destination?

India, because everyone there, from the cleaner to the ground staff, is so focused. In my experience, the people are waiting for you, always doing their best. They are always so welcoming.

What do you always take with you on your travels?

Firstly, perfume – this is the most important. Then, as a lady, it’s my lipstick. I don’t carry the full set of make-up because I prepare at home. Also my chocolate – all the time, I carry chocolate and candies with me. I also carry water spray for facial hydration.

What sort of car do you drive?

An Audi A6. I love it.

What’s your favourite genre of movies?

I like American movies because they are so professional. I also like to watch Indian movies because they are funny and full of emotion. I find myself crying sometimes watching an Indian movie. I can’t miss a good Arab movie either.

What is your favourite food or restaurant?

I love Hakkasan – it is a Chinese place [that has restaurants] in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. My favourite dishes are duck salad and black pepper beef.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Sometimes when I feel down, people around me in the aviation sector say: ‘Ghada, you will do it, we are 100 per cent sure, you have to just focus and do your best.’ It’s so good to hear people say: ‘We know you will do it.’ And after I became a first officer, they came to me and said: ‘See, we told you’.

Who you would like to have as a passenger on one of your flights?

The leaders of my country, who are doing so much for the nation and for the people. They make us feel safe and proud of this country.

What’s your favourite music?

I listen to both English and Arabic, but probably English music more. However, I don’t have a favourite singer.

What are you reading at the moment?

During this period, I usually read the Quran.

What are your hobbies?

I try to spend as much time as possible with my family and meet my friends. I love shopping, or going to the salon or the cinema. I’m not a fan of the gym, but I force myself to go and work out.

mhealy@thenational.ae

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Source: art & life

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