Major mariam Al Mansouri broke tradition when she became the first female Emirati fighter pilot. But her achievement was emboldened further in September last year when she led the UAE’s air strikes on ISIL in Syria, captivating the Arab world and beyond.
“She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot and she is on a mission,” the UAE’s ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba said when confirming her role in the coalition attack. It was an accurate choice of words to describe the Abu Dhabi woman who was so determined to become a fighter pilot she joined the UAE military as a general officer despite women being banned from the air force combat role at the time.
Then the law changed, and so too did Al Mansouri’s life. She graduated from the Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College in 2007 and, now a major, works with F-16 Block 60 aircraft, among the most advanced military aircraft in the world.
Al Mansouri is one of eight children and while she says her family have supported her career choice, she has had to endure some gender discrimination. But the top-grade student has reportedly proven herself more than capable.
She also has an undergraduate degree in English literature from the UAE University and last year was awarded the Mohammed Bin Rashid Pride of the Emirates medal.