Films in the future will showcase Emirati stories for evolving global audience

A tremendous number of untold stories from Dubai's olden days need to be shared with the world; they need to be brought to the big screen

By Nayla Al Khaja

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Published: Fri 3 Dec 2021, 2:01 PM

There are lots of untold stories about the layered fabric of Emirati culture, which is what makes my work as a filmmaker an immersive experience. There is nothing quite as powerful as storytelling for an evolving global audience. This is the germinal thought that motivated me to become a storyteller.

Take a moment to recall how Dubai was 40 or 50 years ago — it was a desert; and we have come a long way since then. A tremendous number of untold stories from those days need to be shared with the world; they need to be brought to the big screen. A space where people can look into the window and see our stories through our eyes, told from our vision so then they feel closer to us. I believe that filmmaking promotes peace and fosters harmony.

Cinematic language is universal. The language of imagery is a powerful medium that lends to fascinating stories from the mountains, down to the oceans and urban landscapes.

These stories can capture our folklore music and dances, traditional costumes, precious jewellery and everything linked to our people. Underneath this fabric will be storylines that will resonate with many nationalities and backgrounds because, again, it’s the story of the human being and that’s what makes the stories works of art. With over 200 nationalities living in the UAE, these stories can certainly move countless people.

My career in films begins now. Being a pioneer entails a great deal of responsibility and gravity. To encapsulate the UAE’s story in my films. Whether it’s the story of a mother saving a child’s life or whether it’s a comedy, it doesn’t matter what genre, as long as it is from the actual ground of the city itself where I was born and raised in — Dubai.

I strongly believe that arts offer us an opportunity to shatter stereotypes. Through films, we can also outgrow certain taboos. For one, we can stop looking for reasons to justify when someone is treated poorly, either by verbal or emotional abuse. As a community, we need to follow the examples of our wise and visionary leaders. We should generate real change, foster respect and ensure people are not mistreated.

In the coming years, the focus on films is only going to grow as especially during the pandemic, we have realised that we need arts more than ever.

In times of crisis, people question their mental health and look at finding ways to express their feelings. I believe we heal our own emotions by expression, and films — like many other forms of art — offers us an opportunity to voice our feelings.

I’d like to see more filmmakers join the industry, and as they do, I’d like them to remember that whatever medium they choose to pursue — they do not need to be particularly good at it — but feel happier and experience inner joy in their creative pursuits.

(The author is the first female Emirati film director and producer)

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