Mahamoud Mohamed, a station maintenance manager with Qatar Airways at Sydney Airport, said it was a difficult time to find work in the aviation industry, as most airlines had laid off staff. He met Mr Abdelwahed through aviation engineering circles in the Middle East and nominated him for the Australian visa.
When Mr Abdelwahed announced last year that he planned to invest in a flight simulator, Mr Mohamed thought it was a crazy plan. The equipment cost $100,000 and had to be ordered from Britain, arriving in 2000 parts that Mr Abdelwahed then needed to assemble himself. The world was also in the grip of a pandemic.
“Everybody was hesitant to do anything at that stage and nobody knew what would happen,” Mr Mohamed said.
“I said to him, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ But he was definitely sure because he was passionate to do this. I really admire him for what he did.”
The federal government is considering a hike in the migration rate to fuel the post-pandemic recovery and NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has been pushing for a “big NSW”.
Mr Mohamed said it was likely that the migration officials had not noted Mr Abdelwahed’s job offer. “He’s going to be a good asset as a taxpayer and he’s already doing his own business.”
Mr Abdelwahed’s business partner, Alaa Moaz, who worked with him at Egypt Air and encouraged him to move his family to Australia in the first place, said they were continuing to explore visa options. Mr Abdelwahed was a highly skilled engineer, he said.
“It’s a very stressful job,” Mr Moaz said. “All those people up in the air – on your signature.”
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