Meet One Of The 10 Female Emirati Air Traffic Controllers in The World

  • Publish date: Sunday، 22 August 2021 Last update: Thursday، 25 August 2022
Meet One Of The 10 Female Emirati Air Traffic Controllers in The World

An Emirati woman who chose a path full of hardships because she believed in herself and her capabilities. Jouhayna Al Mheiri, made sure that all the side talk didn't stop her from pursuing her passion until she became one of the most inspiring role models for young Emirati women.

Al Mheiri was one of the 10 Emirati females in the world to take the role of an Air Traffic Control Officer. Despite it being one of the most challenging roles, she proved worthy of this title and position.

In this interview, we speak to Jouhayna Al Mheiri about her secrets to success, life, and all the obstacles she overcame in a journey that started at an early age.

Tell us about yourself, life, and career.

My name is Jouhayna which means the beginning of new things. I am an Air Traffic Control Officer, a co-founder of a non-profit mentorship organisation, Social Media Manager, and Speaker for Women in Aviation - Middle East Chapter. I have completed my BSc Air Transport Management and am currently studying MSc Artificial Intelligence. To unwind, I create hand-drawn intricate artwork, jet ski, and work out. My current passion project is to redesign my motorcycle and learn how to ride to learn a new skill and explore my country differently.

Tell us about your career in the aviation industry in the UAE.

I am an Air Traffic Control Officer, which means I am like Google Maps for the pilots in the sky - a voice in a pilot's headset if you will. I joined the air traffic control training program at 19 years of age and was a fully validated Air Traffic Controller by 21. The surprising fact is that less than 10 Emirati Women are Air Traffic Control Officers across the globe. The challenges are the same for everyone in this field. It is a high-stress environment. Let me explain in terms to make everyone understand the gravity of the job. It is like playing a video game with NO game over option, and each blip on your screen has a minimum of 3-100 souls on board.

Meet One Of The 10 Female Emirati Air Traffic Controllers in The World

As one of the only Emirati Air Traffic Control Officers, what were some of the biggest challenges and lessons you have learned so far?

Lesson learned: Keep going! You actually CAN make it.

From the first week of joining the Air Traffic Control Program, I was told that this wasn't a job I could handle. Well, guess what? I was the youngest woman in the facility to make it. Now I even teach the next generation of Air Traffic Controllers as an on-the-job training instructor and have nearly a decade of experience under my belt. This lesson is part of why I co-founded Jumpstart Aviation, a non-profit mentorship organisation to help guide those interested in the aviation industry.

What strategies can help women achieve the success they want in their workplaces, especially in male-dominated roles or industries?

Don't listen to interference on your frequency. Decide what it is you want and go full steam ahead.

What is the most significant risk you have taken?

Joining the Air Traffic Control training program knowing the fail rate is exceptionally high. However, it showed the most promising future as I had to step up and provide for my mother and younger sisters when I completed high school.

What do you think are the biggest challenges ahead for the next Emirati generation of female leaders?

I believe that right now is when there has been an immense level of support shown to the daughters of Zayed. So, we are actually at an advantage with many doors that are open for us to grow.

Which female figure has inspired you the most?

It's not just one female figure. Every time I hear the story of any person, regardless of gender, I am inspired.

However, three women in my family have shaped me into the woman I am today. My grandmother was orphaned from a young age, put in an orphanage, and then went to medical school. Later, she started her own family and chose to stay home with the children and became an entrepreneur as a fashion designer and worked from home to take care of my new mother and her sister, who both also went to medical school.

My mother became a vet and was the first female veterinary doctor in the UAE, and my aunty is now a successful partner in a hospital she runs in the United States.

My grandmother's story is why all proceeds I make from selling my artwork are sent to an orphanage or school in Africa to help educate and nourish other little kids in the same situation as my grandmother was decades ago.

What's the best advice you've ever received, or you would like to share it with young Emirati ladies.

"If you can dream it, do it" from Dr. Eng Suuad Al Shamsi. Seven words with a lot of impact.

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