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First professional lady yacht captain in Oman

28 Feb 2021 By HUBERT VAZ

If you’re looking for a day charter, a weekend trip or you’re keen for an overnight adventure on the high seas, Muscat Yacht Club promises to get you on the water, in luxury and style, safely and affordably. But there’s also a pleasant surprise awaiting guests who seek unique revelry on a boat.

MYC offers to create the perfect charter experience that suits all needs and all budgets, off Muscat’s shores, where the placid Arabian Sea presents itselfin all its majesty and glory. But the icing on the cake is its new lady yacht captain, Madiha Madny al Bakri, who has embarked on an interesting turn in her life with this challenging hobby.

“I have a passion for anything that involves the sea, everything about it,” Madiha told Muscat Daily, adding, “My father used to be a diver and a competitive swimmer, so the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree! I enjoy diving, fishing, all kinds of water sports and as a part-time job I also teach women and kids how to swim in the convenience of their residential private pools. I also very briefly learnt how to sail with OmanSail.”

Upbeat about wearing this new hat on weekends, since all through the week she works in project management for an international bank in Muscat, Madiha says, “I think, me becoming the first female Omani Captain will be very fulfilling as there is a high demand for females in this line. I also think that there is a very supportive community in Oman that empowers women and I believe that this is a great direction for me.”

Some of my her responsibilities as captain include navigating, driving and parking the yacht, operating the yacht’s equipment and, most importantly, being a host to guests on board and ensuring their safety and enjoyment. She will not only be ferrying guests on pleasure trips but also providing interesting information about Oman and sea routes undertaken as well as sharing interesting facts about watersports, diving, etc to those interested in romancing the waves off Muscat’s shores.

Tackling with ease the cliched query about getting her nose into a male-dominated profession, Madiha asserts, “In today’s world, I think the discrimination is proving more and more ineffective as there are a lot of females taking on roles that are mainly ‘male-dominated’.” She also admits not coming across any lady yacht captains of commerical services in Oman and adds, “I believe, my role will inspire more woman to take on new roles, and I hope to be one of the first to influence women out there.”

About training undertaken for the role, Madiha revealed that she has been quite comfortable with the sea having been involved in swimming and water sports from a very young age. She has now equipped herself with skills needed for manoeuvring commercial craft as well as confidence of ferrying people safely for leisure out at sea.

“Practice makes perfect! My training involves going out on the yacht every weekend and learning more and more each time I go out. I’m currently in Project Management so it’s obviously very different to what I am doing now. One is an office job and the other is a very ‘hands on’ task that requires lots of effort, especially the anchoring part.” Madiha said, adding that she does notforesee any particular hurdles in her path. “I am very optimistic and I think that everyone will welcome the idea of having a female captain onboard.”

As a lady captain, she hopes to make every trip interesting by doing things differently so that guests return with an experience to cherish. The pleasure trips include those for dolphin watching, fishing, sunrise/sunset cruises which are tailored differently for different guests. These are conducted on Yolo (You only live once) a fishing and cruising powerboat that can seat 12 persons plus the captain.

Refreshments as well as lunch/dinner is provided on board, depending on the duration and type of trip. Guests also have the option of bringing their own food and beverages along or specifying the type of food they would prefer while paying for it separately.

For overnight stays, Lovelli – an air-conditioned yacht of the Quicksilver Activ Weekend yacht range is taken out. The super deluxe yacht has two bedrooms to sleep four persons, a toilet, as well as a deck space to seat 12 persons, besides the captain. 

People can book the boat/yacht to themselves for private trips or join with other guests for shorter pleasure trips. The cost for hiring the boat for a short private trip is RO120 while one also has the option of paying RO10 per head, if joining others on weekends. 

While experimenting with a new chapter in her life, Madiha believes that life is all about challenges and one must have the will to take them on. Nevertheless, she smiles to add, that she can switch to being totally feminine and ‘girly’ when among her tribe, and totally tough and resilient when out at sea. As for her fitness quotient, she says, “I am in the water everyday and therefore swimming and being on the sea is a second nature to me.”

Appointed on merit

Amr Abdullah Baabood, founder of Muscat Yacht Club, who was excited to offer Madiha an opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming the first professional yacht captain in Oman, said, “We are so pleased to welcome Madiha to Muscat Yacht Club. I would like to thank all who have joined us in embracing such an innovative and positive initiative. This is a key moment in shaping the careers of future female captains in Oman. We are a young but ambitious organisation and Madiha will progress along with us as we grow and develop together. Her appointment is a clear indication of our commitment to making yachting increasingly inclusive and encouraging for more women at sea.”

Amr is not new to female empowerment, and despite being happy to provide more opportunities for women, he believes that it is not her or her gender that really matters, as women commonly outperform their male counterparts in many professions. “Madiha was appointed on merit and it is great that we can make this statement for all to see that women can achieve a lot in previously male-dominated professions.”

About Madiha’s qualities, Amr said, “We were impressed with her dedication and preparation from both, a mental and physical perspective, and also with her approach to safety and hospitality. This attitude, along with her performance, on and off the seas, as well as her open and determined personality, led us to conclude that Madiha is ready to start her adventure with us at MYC.”

As an organisation which cares about society, MYC also has initiatives on education, youth and environment. “We see our responsibility as not only providing exciting adventures to our guests, but also to provide an ocean education, engaging people with the ways of the ocean from communities and wildlife which rely on it. We want to inspire and build the next generation of ocean ambassadors.”

Madiha’s mind

I love… The sea, good food, and music

I hate… Dishonesty

I am always ready for… The sea

My biggest strength… Determination

My weakness… I’m very impatient

Most recurring dream… To some day own a yacht and retire on it

My ambition… It is said, life without ambition is a ship sailing without a destination. My ambition is to enjoy life and do what I do best!

To me, the sea is… Where I belong

I can spend… Every moment of everyday out at sea

My most fearful experience… Thankfully, I have not come across any experience that I could say was ‘fearful’. However, the sea is unpredictable and one should always be prepared.

My happiest moment… Catching a Mahi Mahi, which took over 30 minutes to reel in

Oman, to me, is… Home, where I belong!

 

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