KFAS News

Two Kuwaiti PDI fellows at Boeing participate in delivery ceremony for Kuwait Airways’s 10th 777

October 31, 2017

Two young professionals from Kuwait, part of the Professional Development Initiative (PDI), recently participated in a commercial airplane delivery ceremony to Kuwait Airways. PDI Fellows Ayoub Ali Ashkanani and Sarah Gharib, Boeing interns, recently joined company executives for the tenth and final 777 delivery to Kuwait Airways.

The objective of the PDI is to build U.S.- Kuwait commercial relationships and to offer professional work experience for highly qualified Kuwaiti fresh graduates from American universities.  Now entering its fourth year, PDI is a joint program developed by the National U.S. – Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), the Embassy of Kuwait in Washington, Kuwait’s Ministry of Higher Education, and the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS). 

Hosted by Jeff Klemann, Boeing’s Vice President of Everett Delivery Center in Washington State, Ashkanani and Gharib participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony and luncheon, where Klemann presented Kuwait Airways representatives with a wooden model of the B&W, the first airplane designed by Boeing, in 1916. Boeing is the world’s largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial airplanes and defense, space and security systems. 

“PDI Fellows have proven to be great additions to our Boeing team,” said George Paddleford, International Human Resources Senior Manager at The Boeing Company. “This program has allowed us to seamlessly integrate high-quality, highly-skilled employees into our workforce, and we are grateful for their dedication and enthusiasm throughout their fellowships.”

Dr. Mohammad Salman, the Director of the Innovation and Enterprise Directorate at KFAS, expressed his pride of PDI fellows dedication..  The initiative reflects one of the many strategic initiatives  supported by KFAS which is designed to benefit the Kuwaiti youth and evolve their careers to the highest caliber before their return to Kuwait to join the workforce .   

He added, “The ceremony has brought many parties together and symbolized the potential of knowledge transfer and its impact on the economy.  This makes us proud of our youth and their capabilities whenever the opportunity for work or giving back to the community arises.”  Dr. Salman expressed his hope in Ashkanani, Gharib, and all the PDI Fellows in the United States to use their gained knowledge and experience at work for the benefit of Kuwait. 

Partially funded by KFAS, the aim of this program is to build U.S.-Kuwait commercial relationships and promoting knowledge transfer through one‐year professional fellowships in the U.S.  

“I have had the experience of a lifetime,” said Ayoub Ali Ashkanani, who is working as a Boeing 777X industrial engineer in St. Louis, Missouri. Of his visit to Boeing’s Everett site before the delivery ceremony, Ashkanani said, “It was fascinating to explore the different mechanical aspects of the planes, whether it be a 777 or a 787, and I was impressed to see how commodities produced in our St. Louis site are going to be fitted on the next generation of 777s, the B777X.” 

He went on to say, “I was proud to be an ambassador for my beloved Kuwait and for the special PDI program at this memorable event, an experience that I shall never forget. It was also a great networking opportunity, enabling me to meet Boeing officials and top representatives of Kuwait Airways, ALAFCO and the DGCA. The days I spent at the Everett site made me take pride in the work I do, playing a role in building the future of the 777 family.”  Ashkanani completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Miami and received his Master’s degree from the University of Central Florida.

“As an industrial hygienist at the Boeing Everett factory, I had the privilege of witnessing the Kuwait Airways Boeing 777-300ER from its initial assembly stages to its final departure from the Everett factory,” noted Sarah Gharib. “As I walk through the factory, I am always impressed by the amount of care and hard work that goes into building a Boeing aircraft.  Viewing this brand-new airplane on the flight-line made me very proud of my country and my company, Boeing. It was a great honor to attend the delivery ceremony in Everett and then to deliver the airplane at the Kuwait International Airport. My parents were very proud.” 

She went on to say, “As a PDI fellow, I have benefited greatly by gaining knowledge and experience through this internship, as well as participating in this major event in Kuwait Airways’ history.”  Gharib graduated from Pennsylvania State University in December 2016.  She is working as an Industrial Hygiene Intern in Everett, Washington, where she is focused protecting employee health and maintaining regulatory compliance through sampling and evaluating workplace hazards. 

So far, Boeing has accepted two PDI Fellows in programs lasting 12 - 24 months, and the aerospace firm is currently in discussions to place additional Fellows later this year.

In an Expert Roundtable hosted by NUSACC earlier this year, U.S. Ambassador Lawrence Silverman offered to host a reception for PDI Fellows upon their return to Kuwait. PDI, he said, is part of America’s efforts to build bridges to younger generations, not only at home, but also abroad.  “American products sell themselves in Kuwait,” Silverman suggested, “but we don’t take the relationship for granted.” He cited education and training as important ways to foster and sustain mutually beneficial relations between our peoples and our countries: “We are actively promoting the United States as a destination for Kuwaiti students.  I am proud that we have over 15,000 Kuwaitis now studying in the United States, more than double the number of students from just a few years ago.”