Madiha flies with Emirates Airlines
Madiha Al Ratekh, 28, from Dubai is the eldest of her father's ten children. Emirates has just five Emirati cabin crew. Madiha jokes that flying is a great way to meet a rich husband. However, she is determinedly single and lives at home with her family in Dubai when not flying around the world.
“This is my fourth year working for Emirates. When I applied for the job, I didn't tell my dad - but now, everything is OK. At first, of course, he said no - especially the first time that I flew abroad, away from my family. But now, I think he understands what I want. I have step-sisters and step-brothers, and they don't like it - but my mother doesn't say anything. Most Emirati girls work in banks. I always expected to work, and always wanted to fly - that was my dream! I didn't travel much when I was younger.
“In the beginning, when I started training, the biggest surprise was the new words they used. At school, we were taught the word ‘kitchen', but on the aircraft we call it a ‘galley'. At school, we learned the word ‘bathroom', but on the aircraft they call it a ‘toilet'. But I found the safety and evacuation training exciting and even if I quit this job, these skills will help me in life.
I can use them to help people. The job has developed my personality. My dad sometimes tells me that I'm really, really tough. He calls me ‘my boy' because I don't have an older brother. I think it's a compliment. I often deal with medical emergencies; I had a case last month on a flight to Tehran, with a passenger who was epileptic. At first, we thought we would need an emergency landing, but we handled the situation well. Everything was fine.
“I'm proud to do this job. It is hard work; it's not just about flying everywhere - it's about seeing different things. The length of a stopover depends on the number of flights to that destination. The maximum would be around 100 hours and the minimum around 60 hours, so our average stay in any one place is 80 hours. I am a shopper and Dubai is my favourite city. But I also love Paris - it has a special atmosphere. There is a large Arab community there, from Morocco and Algeria, and I always have time to look around.
“Doing this job, I don't think that I'll get married. I like flying alone. But at the same time, I don't like it when a man tells me, ‘where are you - I was waiting for you'. That's not right. If I did get married and have children, I don't know whether I would stop or continue. But I don't see myself flying when I'm forty or fifty. None of my friends at home have decided to fly. Many of them wish that they could, but it's still a ‘ question of culture and family. Independence comes with the job; I am more confident, and able to handle myself. My advice to other women is don't listen to anyone - just do it.”
Source: Arabian Woman