You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Female director makes date with Middle-East

Al-Khaja preps 'Hajis' short about Emirati girls

LONDON — While war and political turmoil may dominate much of the coverage about the Middle East, one of the region’s up-and-coming helmers is tackling a far more sensitive subject: the trials and tribulations of Emirati girls going on a first date without getting caught.

Nayla Al-Khaja, the United Arab Emirates’ first femme helmer, is prepping “Hajis,” a 20-minute short black comedy about social relationships amongst locals.

The 29-year-old Al-Khaja is in talks with Ferrari to provide her with a luxury model Ferrari and Alfa Romeo for the $250,000 project, set to start lensing in April next year.

“I spoke to so many people and we all had these kinds of stories that I knew it had to be a movie. I’m either going to cause a revolution or I’ll get killed,” jokes Al-Khaja. “For anyone in the world going on a first date is the most normal thing but not if you’re a local. A lot of people have no idea what it’s like.”

The date movie isn’t the only project the spunky Emirati helmer is working on. She’s also set to start lensing a doc about Nour Al-Rachid, the first man in the UAE to own a camera, who subsequently went on to chronicle Dubai’s growth from a sandy town to booming metropolis.

“He has over 5 million photographs,” says Al-Khaja. “You see the development of the city through his lens. He grew up with Sheikh Zayed (the founder of the UAE) in the 1930s and he became known as the royal photographer.”

2008 will mark the 50th anniversary of Al-Rachid’s first photo and Al-Khaja is aiming to have the pic finished in time for Dubai’s National Day celebrations in December.

One project she has ankled from, however, is the proposed $30 million co-production between Italy and the UAE about the life of famed Sufi mystic poet Rumi. Al-Khaja’s shingle D-Seven Motion Pictures was to produce the groundbreaking pic before local concerns were voiced over the depiction of Sufi Muslims drinking and dancing.

More Scene

  • Cal Mare

    New L.A. Restaurants, Bars and Updated Favorites for Fall 2017

    LONDON — While war and political turmoil may dominate much of the coverage about the Middle East, one of the region’s up-and-coming helmers is tackling a far more sensitive subject: the trials and tribulations of Emirati girls going on a first date without getting caught. Nayla Al-Khaja, the United Arab Emirates’ first femme helmer, is […]

  • Lupus Research Alliance 'Breaking Through Lupus

    Selena Gomez Chokes Up While Describing 'Life or Death Struggle' With Lupus

    LONDON — While war and political turmoil may dominate much of the coverage about the Middle East, one of the region’s up-and-coming helmers is tackling a far more sensitive subject: the trials and tribulations of Emirati girls going on a first date without getting caught. Nayla Al-Khaja, the United Arab Emirates’ first femme helmer, is […]

  • AMAs Afterparty at Watt's with Niall

    Niall Horan, Chainsmokers, Rae Sremmurd Bring the AMAs After-Party to Beverly Hills

    LONDON — While war and political turmoil may dominate much of the coverage about the Middle East, one of the region’s up-and-coming helmers is tackling a far more sensitive subject: the trials and tribulations of Emirati girls going on a first date without getting caught. Nayla Al-Khaja, the United Arab Emirates’ first femme helmer, is […]

  • HBO Presents-Night of Too Many Stars

    Jon Stewart, Other A-List Comics Skip Over Louis C.K. at 'Night of Too Many Stars'

    LONDON — While war and political turmoil may dominate much of the coverage about the Middle East, one of the region’s up-and-coming helmers is tackling a far more sensitive subject: the trials and tribulations of Emirati girls going on a first date without getting caught. Nayla Al-Khaja, the United Arab Emirates’ first femme helmer, is […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content