Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja on paving the way for women in the UAE

We speak to Nayla Al Khaja who’s the first female director and producer in the UAE on partnering with Porsche to motivate others to pursue careers in a male-dominated profession and what exactly it’s like to be pioneering women and how they plan to pave the way in the GCC.

You’re a woman of many firsts in your career. What is it like being a woman in this region to pave the way for others?

It’s an immense, honourable responsibility. I see the messages and emails I receive from girls wanting to follow in my footsteps, and I don’t take this lightly at all. It drives me to do more, push boundaries and have my voice heard. To know that I have an impact on women and also men gives me an internal drive, a motivation inside that doesn’t die. I hope to be able to guide those around me interested in filmmaking, especially the younger women and let them discover their own journey in life.

What are your hopes for women in the future in the UAE?

I hope the women of the UAE find the passion they are looking for professionally and personally. I know mental health is a big topic in the world at the moment and while I believe it’s important to stay positive, it’s also important to be transparent and to reflect from within, understand all emotions and in return address them. With that said, I hope the women in my country find their voice, their passions and positive mental health.

I’m confident that we will all have an incredible future in the UAE given all the current opportunities at hand for women. From every field whether criminology, business or judiciary, you will find women taking on roles which is truly inspiring.

Can you talk us through the campaign with Porsche to inspire young females across the GCC?

Teaming up with Porsche for #DriveDefinesHer has been an incredible experience. The campaign was launched to celebrate the new Panamera and has shone a spotlight on inspiring women across the region by showcasing their aspirational stories through video, while encouraging other women in the Middle East to pursue careers in male-dominated professions. The campaign is centred around Porsche’s commitment to supporting female leadership within the company and beyond and this is something that resonated with me, as it’s a passion of mine to inspire the next generation of young female Emirati filmmakers.

Working with Porsche in the region has been so special and natural for me. I’ve always loved the brand, it’s heritage and the cars they’ve built. The campaign effortlessly captures the power of a female and the car, soul and spirit, alongside each other in such a way that highlights the beautiful balance of both. Like the Panamera, the campaign is powerful, yet elegant, bold and loud yet feminine, giving me a sense of empowerment and safety.

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