Nayla Al Khaja kicks off latest movie venture in Dubai

Barry Henley attends the opening and participates in discussion with the audience
Nayla Al Khaja (ITP Images)
Nayla Al Khaja (ITP Images)


Nayla Al Khaja, considered the UAE's first woman filmmaker, has held her first film club event in partnership with Roxy Cinemas in Dubai.

The Scene Club, which is a monthly gathering held exclusively with Roxy Cinemas, will screen independent films at Box Park and City Walk. By registering at, anyone can attend based on a first-come, first-serve basis. Limited seats are available depending on the venue.

The Scene Club met recently and screened the film Paterson, which was directed by Jim Jarmusch. Actor Barry Henley, who stars in the film as Doc, sat in on the discussion with the audience afterwards.

The movie was shown in Roxy’s newest cinema in Box Park, which has a 1950 feel. The venue has maroon leather seats, antique spotlights, old-fashioned wallpaper and vintage curtains, which together create a great setting for any film buff.

When speaking to Arabian Business, Al Khaja said the opening “was splendid”.

“People’s expectation of the launch was definitely met with positive praise,” Al Khaja said.

She mentioned how glad she was that Henley could be there to help celebrate the club’s first screening with Roxy.

“It was great to see an actor flying from LA to visit Dubai, interacting with the audience and with people in the same industry,” Al Khaja said.

She went on to say that it was Henley’s first visit to the region.

“[Henley] gave us a unique insight into how his acting career started, the challenges he faced, his work-life balance, his family and how the film industry differs in Hollywood,” Al Khaja said.

Said Henley: “Music plays a very big role for me in being an actor. For me, I hear the music of scripts before I even learn the lines.”

When asked what makes a good actor, he said: “A person that brings the truth, however you arrive at it. It’s just a person that you believe, you don’t have to go to school for that.”

Al Khaja is optimistic about the future for The Scene Club. Not only will the club be screening independent foreign films, but it will also offer a film production series titled Made in the UAE that will offer a monthly guide on tips and tricks for local filmmakers.

Al Khaja wants Made in the UAE to provide anyone with an interest in filmmaking with a platform for discussions about local films as well as filmmaking techniques.

She hopes it will offer an opportunity for people to see talented individuals, and to learn from industry veterans, thereby acting as “a stepping stone,” Al Khaja said.

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