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„My Chosen Family“ with Leena Al Ghouti.

girls in car in dubai
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A short film about the meaning of home and community, providing an intimate glimpse into the identity, aesthetic, and creative expression of Dubai’s millennial generation.

Leena Al Ghouti is one of the most visible faces of a new generation of Dubai creatives. The 28-year-old visual artist gained recognition not only for establishing a fresh new personal aesthetic, but also by shining a light on fellow members of Dubai’s creative community.

She’s Mercedes’ new short film “My Chosen Family” sets out to explore the notions of community and belonging in the increasingly international and modern city of Dubai. What does “home” mean to the millennial generation in a place like this? How is the local creative community shaping its members’ personal development? With bustling street scenes, reflective skyscrapers, and surreal natural settings, the short film oscillates between documentary moments and stylized images that invite the viewer into a dreamscape. Viewers will see moments of human connection and an emphasis on friendship, and they will relate to the longing to find your own creative voice.

As a striking companion for Leena and her girlfriends’ road trip, the legendary Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.3-16 was chosen as the hero car for the film. An original powerhouse with a unique style, the car matches the protagonists in bold attitude and life experience. This year, the model celebrates its 30th birthday, which officially makes it a millennial, too.

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For Leena — known internationally for her personal style; pairing oversized, layered street-style fashion with avant-garde designer items and her signature black hijab – Dubai is a place of personal freedom and possibility. Her frequently updated Instagram profile reflects this and is a true family affair: the aspirational shots of her style are not taken by a professional photographer or social media manager, but mainly by her 10-year-old brother Rayan, who has a little cameo in “My Chosen Family”.

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The short film follows Leena as a guide to Dubai’s youth culture, and features many of the region’s local artists and makers. For example, the prolific artist Cheb Moha. Given his ambition and genuine interest in creating a more progressive local identity, he lent his talent to the short film as Creative Director. Other talents include the colorful musician and sought-after DJ Karrouhat, who blends a wide range of musical influences like reggae, electronic music, and Arabic tunes, and the upcoming photographer Mashael Alsaie who is prominently featured in the film, but also contributed photos to the project.