Press Release

EBACE2022 to Feature Speaker Maya Ghazal, Groundbreaking Refugee Pilot

Washington, DC and Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 22, 2022 – Maya Ghazal, pioneering pilot and celebrated Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, will be a featured speaker at the 2022 European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE2022) in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Ghazal’s remarks will be part of a weeklong series of presentations meant to inform and inspire, taking place in the EBACE Innovation Zone. Attendees will hear how her resilient spirit and passion for aviation helped her overcome the hardships of being a young refugee from war-torn Syria to becoming the first female Syrian refugee pilot.

Co-hosted by the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA), EBACE2022 will be held at Palexpo, Geneva’s premier convention center, 23-25 May.

Ghazal was 16 when she fled Damascus with her mother and two younger brothers to join her father in the UK under a family reunification program. After arriving in the UK, Ghazal was excited by what she called her “great, new beginning,” marking a transition to a happy life after several years of living with instability and uncertainty.

Ghazal’s path was a winding one: her academic qualifications were not recognized in the UK; even after proving her academic abilities, Ghazal’s limited grasp of English hamstrung the pursuit of her preferred studies in political science. Persistence paid off: she taught herself English and was admitted to college.

Staying at a hotel with a view of London’s Heathrow Airport, watching airplanes takeoff and landing, sparked a desire in Ghazal to learn how to fly. Although detractors dismissed her likelihood of success, hard work and determination helped Ghazal obtain her UK pilot’s license and fulfill her dream of becoming the first female Syrian refugee pilot.

In 2021, Ghazal graduated with a degree in aviation engineering and pilot studies from Brunel University London, with hopes of becoming an airline pilot. That same year, she was appointed a goodwill ambassador by UNHCR. Today, Ghazal shares her story to inspire audiences around the world.

Maya’s story is not only about conquering adversity, stigma and rejection – it is also one of dedication, passion and success,” said Chris Strong, NBAA senior vice president, events.

We are honored to welcome Maya as a featured Innovation Zone speaker at EBACE2022, and we know her presentation will be a highlight of an already energetic and educational conference,” said EBAA Chief Operating Officer Robert Baltus.

Learn more about EBACE2022.


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