Skip to main content

Known for Being

The first first woman film Director/Producer in UAE.

The founder of the first film club in Dubai.

Major Accomplishments

Nayla Al Khaja is the first woman film Director/Producer in the United Arab Emirates. She is the CEO of Nayla Al Khaja Films and founder of The Scene Club, Dubai’s first film club, launched in 2007. Al Khaja wrote, produced and directed several films, presented and awarded in international film festivals. She is also a motivational speaker, and a cultural consultant. Over the years, her passion, artistic integrity, dedication to develop the Emirati film industry, and continuous advocacy for Women in Cinema, helped her reputation of trustworthy professional grow, while she was becoming an influential businesswoman.

In 2006, Al Khaja wrote and directed her first short film, Arabana about child abuse, which premiered at DIFF 2007. The same year she was awarded the title of Best Emirati Filmmaker. She wrote and directed three more short films: Once (2009), Malal (2010) and The Neighbor (2013). Malal received the Muhr Emirati Award at DIFF 2010 and The Neighbor was awarded Best Emirati Film at the 2014 Abu Dhabi Film Festival. To date, her films have participated in over 42 festivals worldwide. In October 2016, Al Khaja shot a pilot for her first feature film, Animal, currently at the pre-production stage. Nominated for the Muhr Emirati Awards, Animal’s pilot was presented at DIFF 2016. The short film received the Jury’s Special Prize for Best Short Fiction at the Italian Movie Award in Pompeii, Italy, in September 2017.

Al Khaja's accolades include being ranked amongst the Top 50 most powerful personalities in Arab Cinema, and 100 most powerful Arabs under 40 by Arabian Business Magazine. She’s also been awarded the Visionary of the Year Award at the Arabian Business Awards, and offered of Brand Ambassador for Canon Middle East. Al Khaja's exploits have also earned her the Emirates Woman of the Year (2005), and The Youngest Entrepreneur of the Year from Global Businesswomen and Leaders’ Summit Awards. In 2017, she has been nominated for the Gulf Business Awards in the category Entrepreneur of the Year, and the CEO Middle East Awards 2017 in the categories Female CEO of the Year and Visionary of the Year, not only for her achievements as a professional filmmaker advocating for a better and stronger recognition of Women in Cinema, but also for the remarkable success of her production company.

Last modified: 06/05/2019

Share this: