01/31/2012 12:36 pm ET

Mariam Al Safar, UAE Woman, Is First Female Train Driver In The Middle East

In Urdu, Mariam Al Safar's last name means journey. It's no surprise, then, that this 28-year-old woman from Dubai has become the Middle East's first female train driver, the Daily Mail reports.

"She is the first local to drive. She was the only train attendant (when) we had a local. She is very hard working. She works early to come to work. She does night shifts, and she is everywhere," Faith Mutune, Al Safar's colleague told Dunya News.

Al Safar's story is an unusual one in a region with a dismal record for gender equality. In Saudia Arabia, for example, women aren't even allowed to drive cars. In September last year, a woman in the ultra-conservative kingdom was sentenced to 10 lashes after being arrested for driving.

"I am always open to challenges and I am not afraid to take risks. I work hard and my job is my top priority," Al Safar told Gulf News.

"Being a train attendant has helped me understand how to interact with people and staff from different nationalities and different cultures. This has empowered me to tackle different kinds of situations with ease," she also said. Al Safar often starts working at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.