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Reem Al Saffar

Senior Manager – Aerodromes, UAE General Civil Aviation Authority 

Alumna - University of Wollongong in Dubai

As a child, Reem always dreamt of working in aviation. Completing a Master of International Business at the University of Wollongong in Dubai helped transform this dream into reality. Today Reem is Senior Manager – Aerodromes for the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) where she oversees airports, aerodromes and heliports.

Watch the video or read below to hear Reem's story.

My transnational study experience

As a child, I was inspired by Aysha Alhameli, the UAE’s first female pilot captain. I felt a magnetic draw towards aircrafts, and I just knew that I needed to work with them one day. 

When I was choosing where to study, many of my friends and family members spoke highly of an Australian education. 

It was also important to me that I picked an institution that not only offered a variety of courses but was also reputed and accredited. So, I chose to study at an Australian institution, The University of Wollongong, which has a campus in Dubai. 

I had an incredible experience at university. I loved the engaging class discussions and projects. They took me out of my comfort zone and helped me to develop out-of-the-box thinking skills. 

With the constant support of my professors, I slowly mastered the expertise I needed to lead diverse teams and manage mega, large-scale projects. The experience taught me an important lesson - comfort hinders growth and change builds confidence

The Australian education system introduced me to a whole new world of cultural diversity and helped me connect with an amazing network of fellow aviation professionals. It made me a better leader as I now look at management issues in a cultural context and understand how culture truly affects business. 

My career in aviation

I joined Dubai Airports in 2012 as a graduate trainee and moved to UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) in 2018 as the first female Emirati Aerodrome Operations Inspector overseeing UAE airports.

Today, I hold the position of Senior Manager – Aerodromes at GCAA. I am responsible for the safety oversight of aerodrome operations, rescue and firefighting and approval of aerodrome developments. 

I oversee ten international airports, presidential and private aerodromes, over 150 land-based heliports and approximately 600 offshore helicopter-landing areas. 

I am also the UAE focal point for all aerodrome and ground aid related matters for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Middle East. As well as the UAE representative at the ICAO Middle East Aerodrome Planning and Safety Implementation Group.

Making an impact 

It has been an honour for my national and international achievements to have been recognized on several occasions. I’ve received a Dubai Medal for the Best Field Employee, and a GCAA Director General's Award for my exceptional achievements to the UAE Civil Aviation Industry.

I also recently had the privilege to accept the Inspirational Woman Award from the University of Wollongong in Dubai for my achievements in the industry as an Emirati Woman.

I truly believe that my exposure to the diverse, reputed and engaging Australian education system moulded me into an analytical thinker and leader. It allowed me to bring a new perspective to the challenges that cross my path, whether they may be on the ground, or in the sky!

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