Nayla Al Khaja, Director and Associate Producer, UAE

“Every fear is a dance, and we need to know which fear to embrace and which one to let go. Some can kill you and some expand you.” – Nayla Al Khaja

In this episode, Ashutosh Garg converses with Nayla Al Khaja, the first female film director-producer in the United Arab Emirates. She is the CEO of Nayla Al Khaja Films, a Dubai-based company previously named D-Seven Motion Pictures, and is also founder of The Scene Club, Dubai’s first film club, launched in 2007. Nayla, one of the pioneering female film directors in the middle-east shares with us the challenges she faced while chasing her long-cherished dream of becoming a filmmaker. She tells what inspired her to become a director, thus choosing a road less travelled by women. The aspiring filmmaker however, succeeded, and to inspire future filmmakers to realize their goal, in this episode she shares memorable instances and obstacles in her professional life. As someone who directs documentaries, commercials, and full-length movies, Nayla analyzes the key differences in preparing herself to create content efficiently  in these three formats. Later in the episode, she talks about how she raises money to produce movies and finds producers. As a critically-acclaimed director, Nayla describes what goes into making a great film, or a magnum opus. “Script is everything. The heart and soul of the story”, says Nayla, who believes that movies have the power to influence the society by mirroring the state the society is in. Afterwards,Nayla talks about the core values she upholds as a film director. She tells what she looks for when hiring a crew member. She explains how the millennials are transforming the film industry and how digital content is democratized nowadays. In the section that follows, Nayla talks about the gender diversity scenario in Asia and the Middle East, and in the global film industry. Before concluding, she shares her biggest learnings from her biggest mistakes in life.

Nayla Al Khaja, Director and Associate Producer, UAE


Nayla Al Khaja is the first female film Director/Producer in the United Arab Emirates. Nayla has written and directed several films, which have all been presented and awarded at various international film festivals. Nayla is also very active in the TV commercials domain, constantly directing for various international brands.
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As a working professional, Nayla’s accolades include being ranked among 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 she is Brand Ambassador for Canon Middle East since 2011. She was recently declared Black Swan Award for Women Empowerment – Asia One 2019, and Business-woman of the Year – Gulf Business Awards 2020



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