The flight from Brunei, a predominantly Islamic country in Southeast Asia, to Saudi Arabia was piloted by captain Sharifah Czarena, the first ever female captain in Royal Brunei Airlines, according to the Brunei Times.
The flight from Brunei to Jeddah commemorated the 32nd anniversary of Brunei’s independence from Great Britain.
Royal Brunei Airlines’ first all-female pilot operates a plane in Saudi Arabia-where women are not allowed to drive pic.twitter.com/GOSvoI0NBL
— CNN-IBN News (@ibnlive) March 15, 2016
In 2012, the airline boasted that Sharifah Czarena was the first female captain in the entire region, not just Brunei.
“As a woman, a Bruneian woman, it is such a great achievement,” Czarena said. “It’s really showing the younger generation or the girls especially that whatever they dream of, they can achieve it.”
The all-female crew landing in Saudi Arabia threw the country’s stringent measures against female drivers into sharp relief. In 2014, a women’s rights activist was arrested at the border after trying to drive from the United Arab Emirates into Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where women are barred from driving, at a tremendous cost to the economy. In 2002, author Thomas Friedman said that the country employs over 500,000 foreign chauffeurs to drive women around.