Major Mariam Al Mansouri is the first ever female fighter pilot from the United Arab Emirates who became an overnight sensation after she led airstrikes against ISIS. Here’s what you need to know about her.
1. She Always Wanted to be a Fighter Pilot
Al Mansouri is 35-years-old and is a native of Abu Dhabi, UAE.
She has an undergraduate degree in English literature and was the first woman to enroll in the UAE Air Force when it opened its doors to women.
A graduate of Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in 2007, the Major is now a veteran operations pilot, working with F-16 Block 60 aircraft.
She says that she has always wanted to be a fighter pilot but becoming the first female Emirati one was an uphill battle because she had to prove herself against men.
Ever since I finished high school, I wanted to learn flying because it was something that I liked in the first place.
You can watch her interview with CNN above.
2. Service Runs in her Family
Al Mansouri is one of eight children, two others of which also serve the UAE.
Her sister Aisha Al Mansouri is a qualified A320 first officer while her brother Ali Al Mansouri is a helicopter pilot for Abu Dhabi Police Department.
3. She has Been Recognized by her Country
صورة| الإماراتية مريم المنصوري اول خليجية مقاتلة في سلاح الطيران تقود طائرات حربية من طراز "إف – 16" pic.twitter.com/IqsxV7kKdM
— صحيفة خلف الكواليس (@KhalfNews) June 9, 2014
In May, Al Mansouri was a recipient of the Mohammed bin Rashid Excellence Award where she took home the “Pride of the Emirates Medal”, according to NY Daily News.
She has also met many Emirati dignitaries, including:
Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, who she met at the Dubai Airshow and the International Defence Exhibition.
4. She Led UAE Air Strikes Against ISIS
— The National (@TheNationalUAE) September 25, 2014
UAE ambassador to the United States Yousef Al Otaiba confirmed today that Al Mansouri was not only involved with recent attacks against ISIS, but led them.
I can officially confirm that the UAE strike mission on Monday night was led by female fighter pilot Mariam Al Mansouri… She is a fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot and she is on a mission.
Al Mansouri herself has not been available for comment.
5. Social Media Blew Up at the Announcement
— Ivette (@ivette0915) September 25, 2014
Following the confirm by Al Otaiba that Al Mansouri had led the airstrikes against ISIS, Al Mansouri began to trend on Twitter where she was celebrated as champion for Middle Eastern women’s rights.