“Every trip I heard this comment from passengers: ‘Had I known a woman was flying the plane I would never have come on board.’” Egyptian-born Heba Darwish describes her journey of overcoming the barriers in a male-dominated society and profession to achieve her dream of becoming an airline captain.

SAT-7 ARABIC’s program She’s the Story broadcasts many inspiring episodes featuring female high-achievers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). These women have overcome the odds stacked against them and accomplished great things in their society. Now, their stories are inspiring women across the region to do the same.

One such story aired with guest Heba Darwish, an Egyptian woman who managed to accomplish the unfathomable – become a pilot in command.


“I first went on a plane when I was eight years old. The captain let me enter the cockpit,” Heba describes, “and I was amazed! It was a totally different world in there. That’s when I decided I wanted to sit there in the captain’s place.”

When Haba grew up and found out that women were allowed to study and become pilots in the United States, she applied and was accepted to a University.

Heba Darwish, an Egyptian woman who managed to accomplish the unfathomable

“My parents resisted and didn’t believe in my ambitions in the beginning,” she remembers. “My persistence won them over and they let me travel to the USA to study. At my graduation, my father came to visit me and flew in my plane which I piloted. He realised that this is where I belonged and became supportive.”

It was no easy task for Heba to become a pilot. “I had to pass three degrees before being able to fly a plane with passengers,” she told the host of She’s the Story.


“It was a shock when I returned and faced the reality in Egypt.” Heba struggled to find employment for two years. “Nobody wanted to employ me, not even private companies. I persisted and applied whenever there was a vacancy.”

Heba eventually got a break and was hired by EgyptAir. She is now one of just 11 female pilots out of 3,500 pilots employed by the airline.

“No dream is easy. It takes a lot of effort,” shares Haba. “But if the dream is strong enough inside of you, you can achieve it.”

SAT-7 ARABIC program She’s the Story presents the lives of successful Arab women who have faced adversity courageously and achieved their goals. When you support SAT-7, you help us continue to inspire women in the Middle East to pursue their dreams. 

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