Cinema – A Social Catalyst: Dubai Expo 2020: Canon Brings Women Trailblazers From The Middle-East and African Film Industry

Chioma Ude, Founder and Executive Director of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF)

Cinema has long been revered as a powerful and transformative tool to create awareness and change in the society.  While the film-industry acts as a catalyst of global change, it still remains heavily male-dominated with vast discrepancy between the numbers of male and female workers. The under-representation of women in an industry that stands as a stimulant for social change, growth, progress and development, is a critical issue that needs to be addressed at global events such as the Dubai Expo 2020. In an effort to shed more light on this matter, Canon’s panel discussion will involve women from the film industry who shattered the glass ceiling across Middle-East and Africa such as UAE’s first female Film Director/Producer and CEO of Nayla Al Khaja Films and Motivational Speaker - Nayla Al Khaja from Dubai, Sara Shazli from Egypt who directed the critically acclaimed movie ‘Back Home’ and Chioma Ude from Nigeria – the Executive Director of Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF). The discussion will delve deep into gender representation issues across the industry, hindrances that are keeping women from entering this billion dollar industry as well as celebrate the victories of women trail-blazers taking a leaf from their books for aspiring women film-makes, whilst exploring newer opportunities arising as a result of the pandemic.

Flourishing Film Industry – Hotbed Of Opportunities

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With the ever-increasing popularity of films as well as the introduction of new marketing and distribution platforms such as IPTV, digital newspapers, DTH, and digital cable, in addition to online sales of music and movies, the industry is certainly headed for a major economic boost. According to the Middle East Movies & Entertainment Market Report 2021-2028, the Middle East movies and entertainment market size is anticipated to reach USD 3.57 billion by 2028, registering a CAGR of 8.5% during the forecast period. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia region is foreseen to remain at the forefront regarding market share and projected to account for a total market share of 27.5% in 2028. “These figures are proof enough to demonstrate that the film industry has enormous potential to explore, expand and generate opportunities for women thus allowing them to break the societal barriers and become financially independent. What’s more is that the history of women in film-making in the Middle-East goes back to 1926, when a female director gave Arab cinema its first feature-length film. As a company, our relentless effort is to pave the path of empowerment for all members of the society regardless of their gender. The film industry today has the power to unlock equal opportunities for women and men, there are so many opportunities to be explored. As demonstrated by our ‘Women Who Empower’ program that is running across the Middle-East and Central and North Africa, there are an abundant number of talented women out there who want to showcase their talent and creativity. It is crucial that more platforms such as Women’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 are created to fortify these voices that echo the sound of change, progress and development for our society,” commented Mai Youssef, Corporate Communications and Marketing Services Director – Canon Middle East and Canon Central and North Africa.

Putting Female Film-Makers At The Forefront

Thus, the evolution of filmmaking in the region, and the continued participation of women serves as a symbol of change in the film industry that has only just begun and needs to be fortified further. The same sentiment is reflected across Africa with gender inequality persisting as a major challenge stalling the continent’s equal growth. According to a new UNESCO report, about 5 million people currently work in the film sector in Africa and that contributes $5 billion to the continent's GDP. The report highlights that Africa’s film industry is booming and has the potential to create 20 million jobs and generate $20 billion in revenues annually. However, women are largely under-represented in the creative roles across the continent particularly in the Central African region where the estimated share of women in films is less than 10 percent. Thus, highlighting the hindrances faced by women to breakthrough in the industry as well as challenging the patriarchal structures that rule the film-industry are crucial for the progress of women and society at large. Encouraging women to ask the right questions as well as empowering them by opening avenues of opportunities has been Canon’s mission which will further be reflected at the Women’s Pavilion Expo 2020. Canon’s panel discussion to be held at Women’s Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 will highlight all these issues in addition to more and will be moderated by Vijaya Cherian.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA).
Media enquiries, please contact
Canon Central and North Africa
Mai Youssef

APO Group - PR Agency
Rania ElRafie

About Canon Central and North Africa:
Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) ( is a division within Canon Middle East FZ LLC (CME), a subsidiary of Canon Europe. The formation of CCNA in 2015 was a strategic step that aimed to enhance Canon’s business within the Africa region - by strengthening Canon’s in-country presence and focus. CCNA also demonstrates Canon’s commitment to operating closer to its customers and meeting their demands in the rapidly evolving African market.

Canon has been represented in the African continent for more than 15 years through distributors and partners that have successfully built a solid customer base in the region. CCNA ensures the provision of high quality, technologically advanced products that meet the requirements of Africa’s rapidly evolving marketplace. With over 100 employees, CCNA manages sales and marketing activities across 44 countries in Africa.

Canon’s corporate philosophy is Kyosei ( – ‘living and working together for the common good’. CCNA pursues sustainable business growth, focusing on reducing its own environmental impact and supporting customers to reduce theirs using Canon’s products, solutions and services. At Canon, we are pioneers, constantly redefining the world of imaging for the greater good. Through our technology and our spirit of innovation, we push the bounds of what is possible – helping us to see our world in ways we never have before. We help bring creativity to life, one image at a time. Because when we can see our world, we can transform it for the better.

For more information:

Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA)


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