Nayla graduated from Dubai Women’s College with a degree in Mass Communication in 1999 and had a stint with Arabian Radio Network where she hosted her own travel show. It turned out to be a great success, her ratings being first in the station. However, Nayla realized her true calling lay in film production which prompted her to apply to Ryerson University in Canada, well known for its film making program. She graduated in 2005 with a Bachelor in Image studies Film Making.
On her return to Dubai, Nayla recognized a lack of financial resources would create significant obstacles in realizing her dream of pioneering a film industry in the UAE. Instead of losing hope, she went out and found the resources to direct and produce her first documentary film, Unveiling Dubai (2004), which was launched by H.H. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Higher Education in the UAE. The film was premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival. There was no looking back after that. Given a lack of regional film industry and Nayla being the first UAE national woman to embark on such a career, she received media attention and accolades from as far away as the Washington Post NHK and the BBC World.
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In 2010, her script (MALAL) about a bored wife on her honeymoon who finds inspiration elsewhere won the Best Script Award in the Gulf International Film Festival 2010 and shortly after that it became the first Emirati‑Indian film shot in Kerala in August 2010. In a short span of time the film was edited and prepared for the Dubai International Film Festival in December 2010 and won 1st place in the Muhr Emirati category.
In 2008, she tackled the topic of local Emirati women dating in the film ONCE which was shot guerilla style.
In 2006, she produced and directed a movie called Arabana, which deals with the disturbing issue of a child abuse, a subject which is taboo in the Middle East. Although it was very difficult to fit such an intense subject in a span of six minutes, Nayla managed to do so quite efficiently and not without effect. The movie is hard hitting and makes you sit back and take notice.
Edward R. Pressman, producer of The Crow film series, Wall Street (1987) and American Psycho (2000) had this to say about Arabana: Gorgeous and disturbing’.
The movie was premiered at the Dubai International Film Festival. In 2007, Nayla was awarded best Emirati filmmaker at DIFF.
In that same year she partnered up with the Dubai International Film Festival to start a non profit film club called The Scene Club, and has been running ever since inviting international directors to showcase their independent films in Dubai. The club has over 5,000 registered members. [find out more at http://www.thesceneclub.com/
Following the success of The Scene Club, she expanded to Abu Dhabi with Aflam Film Club, sponsored by twofour54 Abu Dhabi, with it’s current membership at over 1,600 members.