Khadija al-Salami

Khadija al-Salami (Arabic: خديجة السلامي‎; born November 11, 1966, in Sana'a, Yemen[1]), is the first Yemeni female film producer and director.[2] Al-Salami currently resides in Paris, France. She has been nominated and won some awards at film festivals such as the Dubai International Film Festival and Vesoul Asian Film Festival.[3] She has been featured in the Academy Awards as well. One of her most notable films would be her documentary by the name of I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.

Khadija Al-Salami (2016).

Early life and educationEdit

At an early age, al-Salami was sent to live with relatives after her mother divorced her father over severe domestic abuse. At age 11, she was forced by her grandmother into an early marriage and was raped by her husband.[4] Some weeks later her husband returned her to her uncle, who immediately disowned her and returned her to her single mother. She escaped the immense family and society pressure by finding employment with the local television station and simultaneously attending school in the mornings which was her only output for happiness.[2] At the age of 16, she received a scholarship to finish secondary school in the United States. Subsequently, she enrolled at the Mount Vernon College for Women, in Washington, D.C. After a period in Yemen and Paris, she returned to Washington to earn her Master's degree in communications at the American University. For her thesis, she produced her first film.


Her first feature film, which was entirely shot in Yemen was I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. The film recounts the true story of Nujood Ali, Yemen’s most famous child bride, who was married off at ten and filed for divorce in court.[2] Al-Salami did not want to tell only Nujood’s story, but also her own and that of many other Yemeni child brides because this allows other young girls to understand the effects of these marriages.[2] Unlike most of her films since she currently resides in Paris, this one was only shot in Yemen.[2] This movie won her the best feature film at the Dubai International Film Festival and was also shown at other festivals.[2] In 2016 her film, I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced, became the first Yemeni film to be submitted for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 89th Academy Awards.

She has been making her own documentaries for quite some time like her most recent one called The Scream (2013) which is a documentary about the Yemen's uprising that happened in 2011 and what women did during this uprising.[2] She had many works like this such as her documentary A Stranger in her Own City (2005) which is a documentary about exile and how home can keep you trapped with the traditions around it.[5] Al-Salami has even stated that in her film A Stranger in her own City was "never aired on Yemeni television as they were not used to such controversial subject matter".[5] She had created this film through the own pain she had experienced with arranged marriage as well as the experience of a young girl by the name of Najmia who was 13 years old at the time.[5] She enjoyed filming her because of her carefree spirit and of how she had reminded al-Salami at her age.[5]

Since then, al-Salami has produced several documentaries for various television networks in France and Yemen. The primary focus of her documentaries is on women, possibly as a reflection of her life experience. She has also co-authored with her current husband, the American Charles Hoots, an autobiography, The Tears of Sheba.

Al-Salami currently serves as Press and Cultural attaché and Director of the Yemeni Information Centre at the Embassy of Yemen in Paris.


Year Works
1991 Hadramaout: Crossroads of Civilizations
1994 Le pays suspendu
1995 Women of Islam
1997 Land of Sheba
2000 Yemen of a Thousand Faces
2005 A Stranger in Her Own City
2006 Amina
2013 Scream
2014 I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced
2015 La rosée du matin (French), with Nada al-Ahdal
2016 Jedenastoletnia zona (Polish), with Nada al-Ahdal

Awards and nominationsEdit

Festival Year Award Category and/or Film
Dubai International Film Festival 2014 Muhr Award- Winner Best Feature Film: I am Nujood, Age 10, and Divorced (2014)[3]
Dubai International Film Festival 2006 Muhr Award- Winner Best Documentary- Silver: Amina (2006)[3]
Vesoul Asian Film Festival 2006 Youth Award- Winner Une étrangère dans sa ville (2005)[3]
Vesoul Asian Film Festival 2005 Youth Award- Nominee Les femmes et la démocratie au Yémen (2003)[3]


  1. ^ Hillauer, Rebecca (2006-02-02), "Other Filmmakers", Encyclopedia of Arab Women Filmmakers, American University in Cairo Press, pp. 421–448, doi:10.5743/cairo/9789774249433.003.0011, ISBN 9789774249433
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Khadija al-Salami, a Yemeni Child Bride Who Became a Diplomat". Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Brunning, Dennis. " and IMDB Pro". doi:10.5260/cca.199294. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ "The most 500 powerful Arabs". Arabian Business. 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d Aspden, Rachel. "Eastern Eyes". newstatesmen.

External linksEdit