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Major Mariam Al Mansouri, 35, was the first woman to join the Emirati Air Force. The UAE this week joined the United States, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Bahrain in implementing airstrikes against ISIS.
Born in Abu Dhabi, Mansouri is one of eight children. She told Deraa Al Watan magazine recently that her family supported her career goals, but she had to overcome gender stereotypes along the way. It likely helped that she graduated from high school with a 93 percent grade average.
She attended UAE University, the first of the three government-sponsored universities in the country, and received a degree in English literature. She graduated from Zayed Air College in 2007 and is an operations pilot who works with F-16 Block 60 aircraft, according to Abu Dhabi's English language news outlet, The National.
The UAE Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba confirmed on the talk show "Morning Joe" today that Mansouri led the airstrike.
"I can officially confirm that the UAE strike mission on Monday night was led by female fighter pilot Mariam Al Mansouri,” Al Otaiba. “She is fully qualified, highly trained, combat-ready pilot, and she led the mission.”
As she underwent training, Mansouri previously said there was no difference in assignments for men and women, and she tried not to focus on her male colleagues.
"Competing with oneself," she told Deraa Al Watan magazine, "is conducive to continued learning."