EBACE2022 to Feature Speaker Maya Ghazal, Groundbreaking Refugee Pilot

Maya Ghazal

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.

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.

# # #

About NBAA
Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The association represents more than 10,000 company and professional members and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE), the world’s largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at nbaa.org.

About EBAA
The European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) is the leading organisation for operators of business aircraft in Europe. Our mission is to enable responsible, sustainable growth for business aviation, enhance connectivity and create opportunities. EBAA works to improve safety standards and share knowledge, to further positive regulation and to ease all aspects of closely tailored, flexible, point to point air transportation for individuals, governments, businesses and local communities in the most time-efficient way possible. Founded in 1977 and based in Brussels, EBAA represents +700 members companies, corporate operators, commercial operators, manufacturers, airports, fixedbased operators, and more, with a total fleet of +1,000 aircraft. Visit our website on www.ebaa.org

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution. The organization leads international action to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people. UNHCR delivers life-saving assistance, helps safeguard fundamental human rights, and develop solutions that ensure people have a safe place called home where they can build a better future. It also works to ensure that stateless people are granted a nationality. UNHCR works in over 130 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.