Haifaa Al Mansour was born in 1974 in a small town in Saudi Arabia as one of 12 children. Her father, the poet Abdul Rahman Mansour, and her mother encouraged her to pursue an education, and she studied comparative literature at the American University in Cairo.

After further studies in film in Sydney, Australia, Al Mansour became the first female Saudi Arabian film director and shot short films, as well as the documentary Women Without Shadows (2005). Her film Wadjda, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2012, is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudia Arabia, where cinemas are highly restricted. The director received numerous awards and recognition for Wadjda, including Le Prix France Culture Cinéma, avec Libération in Cannes.

Haifaa al Mansour lives in Bahrain with her husband, a U.S. diplomat, and her two children.