February’s – ‘The Future Issue’ – Download Now

Having celebrated 50 years of incredible vision, we look at the new generation that’s set to drive the next five decades of the UAE.

From aspiring designers to art curators, several names in the industry have been making their mark and innovating in the region.

One of the trailblazers of the next generation in the UAE is Sarah AlHashimi, a notable film director. We spoke to her about what it was like growing up in the Emirates, what she loves about the UAE and her hopes for the future.

 Growing up in this region, there has been a multitude of changes over such a short period of time. What has it been like growing up during this time?

It is always interesting to look back at my childhood growing up in a city that was extremely fast-paced. I often find myself feeling nostalgic. I could seldom hold on to anything; places, people or memories. Perhaps this is why a lot of my work revolves around nostalgia and curiosity. Why do we feel like we are constantly chasing to be the best? I know I am 27 and I still have so much more to achieve. Having said that, this quest for greatness has pushed me to try and prove to myself at a young age that I must be hungry to achieve more. The opportunities are vast, and I am definitely grateful for that!

What do you love about being from the UAE?

I love our culture, our hospitality and the vast examples and inspiration that I can see from the leadership. It is the pride and blessing of being an Emirati. My home, my family and growing up with people from all over the world in a harmonious and collaborative state of being is something that I always cherish.

We recently celebrated 50 years of the UAE, what do you envision for the next 50 years of the UAE?

More art and artists, films and filmmakers. I think the past 50 years have been wonderful in terms of infrastructure and creating new milestones. I do believe there needs to be more focus on producing genuine narratives in collaboration with local creatives in the industry, in order to achieve an economically viable and flourishing industry. I think storytelling is important and having the freedom to be creative and expressive is important to push us beyond who we are right now. I hope people still remember where they came from and that while the success our country has witnessed was expedited, it still did come from a place of hard work and humility.

How do you hope to pave the way for future generations?

I think true representation of Emiratis is extremely important, and that is what I try to stay true to. Emiratis are varied, we are different in our ideologies, skin tone, features and we even speak different dialects. I rarely see true representations of this reality. I have been in situations where clients have been too lazy to cast appropriate Emiratis, claiming they are unable to find local women who are okay with having their photos taken or exist in the public eye. This is far from the truth. If you look around you, you will find plenty. We are growing and changing, and the industry needs to keep up with that and make sure that reality is portrayed.

What are your hopes for the future of women in this region?

My hope is that we continue thriving the way we have been for all these years. Emirati women in power is not a new phenomenon. They have been in leadership roles for years and have been working hard and that makes me so proud to be a woman from the UAE. My hope is that we continue to support each other and build on each other’s success stories.

Who are your biggest inspirations in life?

I think we can take inspiration from everything around us. We are blessed to be in a place with vast opportunities and people around us from whom we can draw inspiration, whether friends, family, or places we’ve been to. I often write down scenarios I have seen or witnessed down on my phone so I can use them later in my work. It is always the little things; from witnessing kids play by the beach to a conversation I overhear in a cafe, the beauty and inspiration is there for all to witness.

What have been some of the hurdles you’ve experienced in your career, so far?

I would say sometimes I feel the lines of who I am or who I am trying to be are blurred. Truth be told, I’m a filmmaker, but I also model often, even though I wouldn’t identify myself as a model. I have a day job that has nothing to do with the creative industry. Being a filmmaker is not easy. You need to constantly produce work in order for people to view you as one and constantly producing films is not feasible as it takes time to produce something worthy. You’re always learning. You can start a project but by the time you finish it a year later, you’re in a completely different creative and headspace. Finding out the right message or output for films I create proves to be challenging from time to time.

And what have been the key milestones?

I think I’ve been able to cross the barrier of what an Emirati woman is perceived as in our society, whether it’s through my films or modelling, they’ve all been worthy milestones for me. Being one of the first Emirati women to be featured in a Gucci campaign, having directed my own short film about my family, having my first documentary receive accolades in international film festivals, they’re all milestones that make me proud. And I know I’m just getting started.

This is ‘The Future Issue’ – how do you hope to be a role model for future generations in this region?

I hope that future generations of women from the UAE can look up to me and relate. Whether it’s in the way that I dress or look or through my work, just as I have looked up to other women from previous generations.

February’s – ‘The Future Issue’ – Download Now

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