Ayouch started his career as a scriptwriter and director with the advertising agency Euro-RSCG.
In 1992, he directed Les Pierres bleues du désert, a first short film with Jamel Debbouze which tells the history of a convinced young man that there are large blue stones in the desert. Since then he directed two short films, Hertzienne Connexion (1993) and Vendeur de silence (1994) for which he received international recognition. He won the Ecumenical Award in 2000 in the Montreal World Film Festival for his film Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets. Ayouch is set to produce the French-Moroccan thriller film Mirages.
Jonathan Smolin, "Nabil Ayouch: Transgression, Identity, and Difference" in: Josef Gugler (ed.), Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Social Critique, Indiana University Press, 2015, ISBN 978-0-253-01644-7, pp 214-244