The 100 Most Powerful Arab Women 2015
Thu 26 Feb 2015 12:00 PM
Mariam Al Mansouri

Mariam Al Mansouri

Industry: Armed forces

Designation: Fighter pilot

Country: UAE

When the UAE launched strikes against ISIL late last year, it was Major Mariam Al Mansouri who became the face of the UAE airforce.

The 35-year-old F-16 pilot led the missions in Syria, generating media coverage across the globe as the UAE’s first female fighter pilot, with the vast majority praising her involvement as a huge step for women in the armed forces and a boost for gender equality in the Middle East. Now a symbol of defiance against extremism, and proactivity in the fight against ISIL, Al Mansouri graduated from the United Arab Emirates Air Force academy in 2007. She also received the Mohammed bin Rashid Pride of the Emirates medal for excellence in her field. Her involvement in the 2014 airstrikes were not met with universal positivity. Following the news coverage on American TV, Fox News Channel hosts Eric Bolling and Greg Gutfeld made sexist comments about Al Mansouri - an episode was widely criticised, and served to further enhance the pilot’s reputation.