First Omani female officer storms into male bastion

Mir Alnisa Al Balushi needs to sail for another year or two to be able to get her class 1 rank

  

by Times News Service

Muscat: “I never planned to be the first, I just wanted to be the best.” Those are the inspirational words of Mir Alnisa Al Balushi, Oman’s first female second officer.

Al Balushi, Oman Shipping and Management Company’s first female seafarer to achieve the rank, spoke to the Times of Oman about her joy.

“I am really happy that I was able to accomplish this,” she said. “It is a good feeling knowing that I can be an inspiration for other females who are considering joining. I want to show all the girls that nothing is impossible if you work hard for it.”

The marine engineer, who is currently serving onboard Oman Shipping Company’s vessels as a third engineering officer, recently received her class 2 rank, which means that she is now eligible to sail as a second engineering officer.

From a young age, Al Balushi always knew that she wanted to work in areas that not many girls chose. “When I was very young, I wanted to be an airplane engineer or a pilot, but when I got the opportunity to study marine engineering, I immediately went for it,” recounted Al Balushi.

“I will never forget the feeling I got when I first went on a ship in 2010; it was a completely different world,” she said.

“To be honest, I was a bit excited and I wondered if I would be able to work in this male environment, but I was so excited at the same time and I knew this is what I was meant to do.” Having the support of her family and friends was very important to Al Balushi.

“Being a woman, I thought that no one would support me,” she recalled. “But I was wrong. I got the support and encouragement of my family and friends.”

Despite that, there were individuals who discouraged Al Balushi from following her dreams.

“There were people from outside my family and from college who tried to tell me that this job was not for me and that being from this culture I shouldn’t continue, but after joining, I realised that nothing is impossible and that the work environment accommodates both men and women,” expressed Al Balushi.

Achieving such a rank did not come easily, though. Al Balushi had to go through nine months as a cadet onboard, and only after getting her class 4 Certificate of Competency (COC) was she able to sail as an officer.

Al Balushi then sailed for two and a half years before receiving her class 2 rank. She will then need to sail for another year or two to be able to get her class 1 rank.

“My goal is to be the first female Omani Chief Engineer,” she said. “Even if I do not become the first, being a Chief Engineer is my objective. But getting to this position will take time, dedication, and hard work.”

Al Balushi, who is the only girl in her engineering department, said her message to all the Omani girls is “to never think that anything is impossible if they are willing to work hard. Girls must change their mindset to achieve their goals. I did it and so can any other girl.”

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