Saudi Arabia just became the only country in the Arab World to name a woman to lead an airport

Hind al Zahid was appointed by the board at Dammam Airports Company as Executive Director this week making her the highest ranking female aviation executive in the region

In what might come as a surprise, Saudi Arabia's push to liberalise might make it a flag bearer for female empowerment in the Middle East's aviation sector.

Hind al Zahid was appointed by the board at Dammam Airports Company to lead the company as Executive Director this week. Her appointment makes her the most senior female aviation executive in the region, with a company that manages the largest airport in the world by size, King Fahad International Airport.

Traditionally conservative Saudi Arabia has been on a liberalisation drive as it attempts to transform its economy. Over the last few months, it has appointed women to lead three of its core financial institutions as CEOs, including its national stock exchange, Tadawul, as well as Samba Financial Group, and the Arab National Bank, both among the largest banks in the Middle East.

Al Zahid has previously also served as executive director of the Women Economic Forum from 2009 to 2016.

She is the highest ranking aviation executive in the country, as well as the rest of the Middle East, after Kuwait Airways corporation CEO Rasha al-Roumi resigned from her position last month citing "lack of government backing".


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