Emirati women celebrated in the capital of Europe

BRUSSELS: The achievements of Emirati women were celebrated at the Belgium's renowned fine arts centre, BOZAR, on an occasion that marked Emirati Women’s Day.

Nayla Al Khaja, the UAE’s first female filmmaker, spoke to a large audience of senior Brussels politicians, policy makers, diplomats, activists and media about her career and work. Al Khaja, an advocate for women's empowerment and gender balance in cinema, recounted her experiences as a female director and producer, and the role for women in developing the Art.

The event also saw exclusive screenings of the pioneering filmmaker’s seminal short films, Animal and The Neighbour.

Taking questions from the floor, Al Khaja said that filmmaking in the UAE is experiencing new growth, describing the phenomenon as "a cinema movement". She explained that Emirati filmmakers are driving a relatively young and dynamic industry. As a result, she said, this is creating many more opportunities to women in cinema, who are helping to shape the Emirati film industry.

Introducing the screening, Artistic Director and CEO of BOZAR, Paul DuJardin, paid tribute to Al Khaja’s work. He pointed to the close cultural exchange and cooperation between Belgium and the UAE, and expressed his hope that the event would be the "the start of a long series of fruitful and inspiring collaborations with the UAE."

The screening was hosted by the UAE Embassy in Brussels, which also made tickets available to members of the public in Belgium.

Speaking at the event, Mohamed Issa Hamad Abushahab, UAE Ambassador to Belgium, described Nayla’s mission as "chiming fundamentally with that of her country; empowering women and achieving gender parity across all sectors underpins the UAE’s strategy for the future." He added, "by celebrating her work, we’re also saluting the achievements of many inspirational and pioneering Emirati women who are making a difference, not just in the UAE, but in the region and across the globe."

Commenting on Emirati Women's Day, which is observed on 28th August each year, Abushahab said, "It is exceptionally important day for us. It provides an opportunity for us to shine a light on the achievements of pioneering Emirati women globally, particularly in places like Europe, where they are less well known. Inspirational women leaders like Nayla bring greater gender equality across all areas of life in the UAE, and inspire similar movements throughout our region. This evening, we are showcasing her work and mission in the capital of Europe."