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Nayla Al Khaja: A Trailblazer in Arab Cinema 2024

Nayla Al Khaja faces a tremendous mountain to climb; her independent film THREE is set for release on February 1st


Breaking Barriers as the First Female Film Director in the UAE

Nayla Al Khaja, the only female director from the UAE with two films on Netflix worldwide, is a source of inspiration in the Arab cinema. Having broken down barriers as the first female film director in the UAE, her strong cultural understanding and experiences have helped lead challenging undertakings at home and abroad. Al Khaja’s influence extends beyond boundaries, as she has received recognition for directing short films that have won significant honors at international film festivals.

Through her lens, Nayla Al Khaja crafts narratives that are authentic and true to her culture, challenging global stereotypes about Arab cinema. Each of her films provides a fresh perspective, offering a departure from the conventional understanding of Arab cinema. Her commitment to telling genuine stories has earned her a reputation as a female power player in the industry.


“THREE” – Pulse-Pounding Psycho-thriller

Recently wrapping up the shooting of her feature film, “THREE,” which is a film starring the talented Jefferson Hall, renowned for his roles in “House of the Dragon” and “Oppenheimer,” alongside a stellar cast including Faten Ahmed, Noura Alabed, Maree Al Halyan, Mohammad Bin Huthail, and newcomer Saud Alzarooni. It is set to be released in eight countries around the area, on over 75 screens. The film recently made its international premiere at the Red Sea Film Festival in Jeddah, where it garnered a positive reception from both crowds and reviewers. Given that this is an independent production from the UAE, she and the entire cast and crew are competing against major Hollywood/Bollywood studios with large marketing expenditures.

THREE, which recently opened at The Red Sea International Film Festival, is a psycho-thriller that digs into the mind of a young school boy and explores an unseen subject found in communities around the world: possession. The film marks an extraordinary milestone by portraying a scenario rarely seen on film – “an Englishman intertwined with the core of an Emirati family.”

Nayla’s Cross-Cultural Horror Film


,Nayla Al Khaja discusses how the cross-cultural horror film challenges norms and offers a unique cinematic experience. From the cultural nuances to the casting choices, Al Khaja shares insights into her creative process and the significance of bringing diverse perspectives to the forefront of Arab cinema.

As Nayla Al Khaja continues to pave the way for young women in the film industry, her work exemplifies a refreshing approach to storytelling that resonates globally. Through her lens, Arab cinema evolves, embracing new narratives and perspectives that captivate audiences worldwide.

Watch the whole trailer here:

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