In a momentous and timely nod to women’s empowerment and equality, today’s International Women’s Day saw Egyptian pioneer Nevin Darwish become the first ever Arab female pilot to commandeer the world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380.

Although Darwish did not complete the landmark feat on Egypt’s national carrier, video footage posted by Emirates Airlines shows the Egyptian piloting the iconic jetliner on Darwish’s maiden voyage from Dubai to Vienna, which she completed with seamless professionalism.

Darwish’s accomplishment is the latest iteration in a general trend across the Arab world of females being, however belatedly, given the opportunity to participate and consequently excel in many fields and vocations that previously were the exclusive domain of men. This trend has included episodes such as the recent overtures from the Saudi government to allow women to attend football matches, work in public service and eventually being given the right to drive in the very near future.

The Dubai-based carrier offered a selection of female pilots to fly as a commemoration of International Women’s Day and to mark its increasing significance across the Arab world, in light of the bold reformative steps many Arab and Middle Eastern government are now enacting to address this longstanding societal concern.

Darwish was lauded for her efforts and described as a “wonderful role model” and an “inspiration to all young pilots around the world” by her First Officer and fellow female, Alia Al Muhairi, after her video gained more than 1 million views on the Emirates official Facebook page. We can only hope that this event and recent others like it across the region are genuinely heralding a new era of change with respect to women’s rights and their place in Arab and Islamic societies, for now the outlook certainly does seem rather more optimistic than it has been since many can remember.