Some Arab Women Find Freedom in the Skies

KATHERINE ZOEPF – New York Times – Monday 22 Dec, 2008

the ninth in the series of NY Times ‘generation faithful’

Abdul Hadi for the New York Times

Flight attendants at graduation ceremony last year in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. Image: Abdul Hadi for the New York Times

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Marwa Abdel Aziz Fathi giggled self-consciously as she looked down at the new wing-shaped brooch on the left breast pocket of her crisp gray uniform, then around the room at the dozens of other Etihad flight attendants all chatting and eating canapés around her.

It was graduation day at Etihad Training Academy, where the national airline of the United Arab Emirates holds a seven-week training course for new flight attendants. Downstairs are the cavernous classrooms where Ms. Fathi and other trainees rehearsed meal service plans in life-size mockups of planes and trained in the swimming pool, where they learned how to evacuate passengers in the event of an emergency landing over water.

Despite her obvious pride, Ms. Fathi, a 22-year-old from Egypt, was amazed to find herself here. . .

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