Emirati woman pilot urges volunteers to come on board for Expo 2020

Nouf Omar, one of the few Emirati women pilots, urges UAE residents to be part of the world fair

Nouf Abdulhamid Omar is a young Emirati first officer who makes time to volunteer from the expo when she is not flying around the world. She is interesting because she is one of a select few Emirati women pilots and has been volunteering at Expo 2020 Dubai  since last year so has seen the site before the construction work started. This is her appeal to citizens and expatriates to pitch in and help with the preparations with about a year to go before the world fair starts. Courtesy: Expo 2020 Dubai  
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When she's not flying a Boeing 777 through the skies, Nouf Omar volunteers her time at Expo 2020 Dubai and has urged citizens and expats alike to join her.

As the clock winds down to the world fair opening its doors to visitors in October next year, an estimated 30,000 volunteers will be needed to support the mega event.

Emirates first officer Ms Omar, 22, has been a volunteer since last year, despite a demanding flight schedule.

"I simply say don't miss this opportunity," she said in an interview with The National urging people to come on board by registering on the expo website.

"It has come to our home. I would not miss this for the world."

“It has come to our home. There is nothing better than leaving our fingerprint on a major event like this because even in a small role, we will leave an impact. An event like this will be in the UAE’s history forever. I would not miss this for the world.”

The expo will unveil more information about the volunteer programme on Saturday as organisers ramp up the tempo to keep the focus on the event.

Ms Omar is a trailblazer as one of six Emirati women pilots in Emirates airlines and an inspiration to young girls to take on non-traditional occupations in the Middle East.

“People are always surprised and happy to be flown by a woman and we appreciate their support,” she said.

“It is empowering for us to have people who are proud of us and I hope our numbers will increase. We want to inspire more women to expand their options and join the aviation field.”

Selected straight out of high school by Emirates as part of a four-year national cadet programme, the dynamic nature of the job drew her to flying.

“I tell people that volunteering is one of the best ways to give back to the country and community that has given us so much,” she said.

“I’m blessed to have a job where I learn something new every day, fly with different captains who expand my knowledge with their experiences, learn about new cultures. It’s continuous learning.”

If clocking in long work shifts plus volunteering was not enough, Ms Omar is also a chocolatier who creates chocolate truffles and runs a small business Noufy Truffy from her home in Dubai’s Al Barsha area.

After she returns from flying passengers on long haul flights to Johannesburg or shorter stretches to Kuwait, Ms Omar also makes sure she has time for a six-hour shift every week at the expo site.

“I feel an adrenaline rush when I head there. It gives me pride to be part of it,” she said.

“Whoever will be part of the expo will remember it for the rest of their lives. I want more people to join because hand-in-hand we can achieve more for the country.”

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As a volunteer, she has been interviewing people to find a role that best suits them.

Residents who register are called in for a face-to-face interview to identify the section they can be involved in from media, training, transport to generating awareness.

Her constant encouragement to friends and family has convinced her mother to sign on.

“I tell people it will be a once in a lifetime experience because it the first time an event like this is being held in the Middle East,” she said about the six-month expo that will run until April 2021.

From her commanding view in the cockpit, Ms Omar has seen many a spectacular sunrise.

Over the next year, from the flight deck she will also have a bird's-eye view of the sprawling expo site as distinctive structures take shape.

“You get to see some amazing sights 37,000 feet,” she said.

“I’m sure on a clear day soon I will spot the incredible expo site from high above.”

To register: https://www.expo2020dubai.com/en/programmes/volunteers