Syrian refugee pilot Maya Ghazal inspires attendees at EBACE

Maya Ghazal, who at the age of 21 is the world’s first female Syrian refugee to become a qualified pilot.

Last year she was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, inspired attendees EBACE last week.

“She amplifies what aviation is all about,” said EBAA Secretary General Athar Husain Khan in introducing Ghazal. “It’s about perseverance, it’s about stamina, it’s about focus.”

Ghazal recounted how her father was able to leave war-torn Syria for the UK, and how she and her mother were fortunate enough to join him using a family reunion visa.

“I thought life was going to get easier,” Ghazal said, but it didn’t. “I was rejected from three schools,” she said. “I was told I had no qualifications and I could not continue my studies.” It was a struggle even to get tested.

Ghazal persevered, taught herself English and managed to resume her schooling.

Finally on track to become an engineer in the medical field, Ghazal became fascinated watching aircraft operations at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), and told her mother she wanted to be a pilot instead.


She earned her license to fly, despite being ““the same person who was once turned away and was underestimated.” Her ambition now is to secure her commercial license, be employed as a pilot.

“I wanted to be the refugee who bucked the trend,” Ghazal said. “Believe in refugees and we will reward you with our commitment and talent. Everything Is possible as long as you believe in yourself and your abilities.”