POSITIVELY EMPOWERING
Emirates Woman|January 2021
We speak to three incredible women of firsts from the region. Partnering with Porsche to motivate others to pursue careers in male-dominated professions, Nayla Al Khaja, Hend Almatrouk and Adwa Al Dakheel discuss exactly what it’s like to be pioneering women and how they plan to pave the way in the GCC
OLIVIA MORRIS

NAYLA AL KHAJA

The first female director and producer in the UAE

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 that 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 the future for women 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 are truly inspiring.

Can you talk us through the campaign with Porsche to inspire young females across the GCC? Teaming up with Porsche for #Drive- DefinesHer 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.

To you, what does being a role model mean? How do you execute being a positive role model to others? Being a role model is something that I honour and always give a lot of thought to, to push further and aim higher in my work. To constantly be learning and challenging myself. Nothing in this world remains constant and I find it very important to always embrace change and emotion. I’m in the motion picture business so from my perspective, I too have to constantly be moving, be ahead of the curve in life but in a way that actually creates impact. The real challenge is to stay relevant while being a role model, which in return motivates me to stay hungry and continue to learn so I can give back.

What do you believe it takes to break down barriers in male-dominated professions to make positive strides for women in this region? Your work will have to speak on your behalf and break down barriers. It will travel further than you, speak volumes of you. So in a male-dominant profession, I should just forget about that, focus on myself and work, and allow that to speak for itself.

Once that happens, the barriers start to fall one after the other. I believe when you’re creating a story you truly believe in, stay focused, hire a strong team, have the right pillars and give it your all, it will find a platform, whether regionally or internationally as well. Women in the film industry from all around the world have their challenges but one common thread is that it’s a male-dominated industry. But this is where we should continue to do what we love, the beauty and magic that is storytelling, so we can continue to be our own role models and attract more female talent to the industry.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM EMIRATES WOMANView All

The Measure of Quality

Founder of luxury brand Odeem, Fatma Al Otaiba hares her exclusive new collection, combining attention to detail and outstanding craftsmanship

4 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

SOFT POWER

Her Highness Sheikha Sana Al Maktoum, founder of Sana Al Maktoum Fine Jewellery, talks to Emirates Woman exclusively about gratitude, determination and the inspiration behind her debut collection

3 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

Sister Act

Ten years ago, sisters Maryam and Muna Saeed took a leap of faith to launch their very own abaya brand Al Mraikn, which creates modern designs to empower women to feel confident in themselves

3 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

Quality of a Queen

Founder of Didon Jewellery, Azza Skhiri discusses being inspired by a legacy

2 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

Grateful for Good Skin

Skin Laundry is renowned for harnessing the power of lasers to deliver serious skin results

4 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

CAPSULE COOL

Experimental fashion brand IAM MAI creates modern collections through minimal silhouettes

2 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

AM TO PM BEAUTY

Acaena Amoros, founder of The Elixir Clinic, talks us through her beauty and skincare routine

2 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

A Wellness Journey

Robyn Berkley, Founder of Live The Process, shares the wellness practices she has adopted and that are embodied in each element of her activewear brand

4 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

A Conscious Vision

Alserkal’s Executive Director, Vilma Jurkute, on launching a new sustainability agenda whilst reimagining the cultural space

5 mins read
Emirates Woman
April 2021

Winning in Wellness

Gwyneth Paltrow and Jessica Alba have both successfully forged a second career in the wellness space and become leading figures in the industry

2 mins read
Emirates Woman
March 2021
RELATED STORIES

Porsche Design Acer Book RS: This stylish, blazingly fast laptop lives up to its name

The detachable display and 360-degree hinge of the original Porsche Design Book One are gone, now replaced by sheer speed.

10+ mins read
PCWorld
March 2021

ARAB SPACECRAFT ENTERS ORBIT AROUND MARS IN HISTORIC FLIGHT

A spacecraft from the United Arab Emirates swung into orbit around Mars on Tuesday in a triumph for the Arab world’s first interplanetary mission.

4 mins read
Techlife News
Techlife News #485

BEST OF TIMES, WORST OF TIMES

THAT CRAZY YEAR IN WHICH A SMALLER FIELD MADE THINGS HARDER

10+ mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

4 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4

I could be blindfolded and tell you I was driving a Porsche

3 mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

7 Porsche Cayenne Turbo Coupe

Forget physics, Porsche’s uber-SUV is right at home at Best Driver’s Car

3 mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

5 Chevrolet Corvette Z51

The new mid-engine layout places Chevy in exotic car territory

3 mins read
Motor Trend
March 2021

MINE'S THE PORSCHE - ON TEST // ELAN GT6

IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE BADGE: WHY PORSCHE BECAME INVOLVED IN THE DESIGN OF ELAN’S NEW FLAGSHIP

10+ mins read
Yachting World
December 2020

The Porsche Design Acer Book RS brings sports-car flair to the laptop

With a name like that, it has a reputation to uphold.

3 mins read
PCWorld
December 2020

Sports Cars For the Wrist: Porsche Design Custom-Built Timepieces Program

The user has the opportunity to customize the signature element of the self-winding movement, the new COSC chronometer-certified Caliber WERK 01.100, developed in-house at Porsche Design Timepieces AG in Switzerland.

2 mins read
Watch Time
September - October 2020

Maisto Datsun 240Z

Stock and tuned Zs that deliver big bang for your buck

5 mins read
Die Cast X
Holiday 2020