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Gulf Mall

Peter Kovessy

Gulf Mall

With reporting from Peter Kovessy

Movie-goers in Qatar now have a new place to watch the latest releases, following the soft opening of another Qatar Bahrain International Cinema theater (Cineco) at Gulf Mall.

The 13-screen cinema is located on the second floor of Gulf Mall and includes two VIP theaters. Ticket prices start at QR35.

It’s currently among the largest cinemas in Qatar, but appears to be opening at a time when fewer people are going to the theater.

According to figures released by the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics, the number of movie-goers in Qatar rose from 2009-2013, but then dropped in 2014.

Movie-going in Qatar

MDPS

Movie-going in Qatar

However, the data also shows that fewer films were screened in 2014, which may have discouraged some would-be movie goers from heading to the theater.

Other cinemas

That said, the cinema market has been rapidly expanding in Qatar.

In March for example, a three-screen cinema operated by Cineco launched inside Al Khor Mall.

Rendering of Doha Festival City

Doha Festival City

Rendering of Doha Festival City

And three other large theaters are expected to open in the coming year, including:

  • A 12-screen movie theater at Tawar Mall, which is located down the road from Landmark and Gulf malls and is expected to open by year-end;
  • A 19-screen VOX cinema complex that includes a 4D film experience at Doha Festival City, which is planning a February opening; and
  • A 19-screen theater at Mall of Qatar that includes IMAX and six VIP screens, and is scheduled to open in late October.

Gulf Mall’s Cineno movie timings can be found online. Thoughts?

Al Khor cinema

Via Al Khor Mall

Al Khor cinema

After nearly a year of delays, Al Khor’s first cinema will finally open to the public today with screenings of Batman Vs Superman and Bollywood film Rocky Handsome.

The theater is located inside Al Khor Mall and can accommodate some 500 people across three screens.

In a statement, operator Qatar Bahrain Cinema Co. said that the show times will be as follows for the weekend:

  • Batman Vs Superman: noon, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm and midnight;
  • Batman Vs Superman (3D): 11am, 2pm, 5pm, 8pm and 11pm; and
  • Rocky Handsome: 12:30pm; 3:15 pm; 6pm; 8:45pm and 11:30pm.

The cinema was originally expected to open last April, and then in the fall.

Speaking to Doha News last year, Al Khor Mall’s manager said that plans fell behind schedule while waiting government approvals.

The expansion of recreational offerings in Al Khor comes as authorities work to cater to residents outside of the crowded capital city of Doha.

Batman Vs Superman

Elsewhere in Qatar, the much-hyped face-off between superheroes Batman and Superman is being played by Novo Cinemas at the Pearl-Qatar and 01 Mall in Abu Hamour (where the big Mega Mart is).

Batman Vs Superman

Batman Vs Superman/Facebook

Batman Vs Superman

For information on screening times at these venues and to buy tickets to the two-and-a-half hour film, see Novo’s website.

The PG-15 film, which so far has gotten tepid reviews from critics, is also playing at Villaggio and City Center malls. See show timings and buy tickets online at Q-tickets.

Who’s going? Thoughts?

Gulf Cinema premises on C Ring

Elysia Windrum

Gulf Cinema premises on C Ring

Gulf Cinema, once a popular leisure destination for Qatar’s blue-collar expats, will be closed for at least another six months while “maintenance and development works” take place, according to a tender for the work posted in today’s newspapers by the site’s owners.

This timeframe suggests that the site will likely not open again until April 2016 at the very earliest.

The cinema complex – which is situated on C-Ring Road in Najma – was closed with no notice in early 2013.

Though officials at the complex said at the time that it would re-open “within a few weeks,” it has remained closed ever since.

Development

In December 2013, the Qatar Cinema and Film Distribution Company (QCFDC) put out a tender for works to be carried out to “implement all civil defence requirements” for the building, confirming for the first time that the complex had been closed because it did not meet government safety standards.

Gulf Cinema tender advert September 2015

Gulf Times

Gulf Cinema tender advert September 2015

In today’s tender, the Qatar Cinema asked for companies to bid to carry out “comprehensive development and maintenance” of the building, adding that the work “shall not exceed a period of six calendar months.”

Interested parties have seven days to submit their bids, but it is not clear when a decision will be made and when work on the site is expected to begin.

Lack of information about plans for the future of the complex and a lack of obvious building activity at the site have both prompted speculation that it might be demolished to make way for a new development.

Last year, however, the CEO of the complex told journalists that renovation work had begun, and that the cinema had been expected to reopen last fall.

He told the Gulf Times that the designs had taken some time as they had been working to ensure “that every requirement as stipulated by the local authorities is met.”

However, a manager at the complex told Doha News last year that the work was “still in the design stage.”

Lack of affordable cinemas

However delayed it might be, the re-opening of the 30,000sqm standalone complex is likely to be welcomed by many of the country’s lower-income expats, who were the cinema’s primary customers.

Grand Mall Hypermarket in Asian Town.

Penny Yi Wang

Grand Mall Hypermarket in Asian Town.

Unable to visit many of the city’s most popular mall-based movie theaters at weekends during to “family only” rules (which have since been relaxed), many men relied on the cinema for entertainment in their time off.

The complex traditionally offered a wide range of films in the workers’ own languages, at a price they could afford.

Despite significant growth in the country’s cinema sector, the low-income market remains under-served, with the only remaining lower-priced cinemas in Doha at Asian Town (formerly known as West End Park) near the Industrial Area.

Asian Town’s movie theaters charge QR20 per ticket compared to the typical QR35 at other cinemas and focus on Hindi and Tamil movies aimed at Qatar’s large Indian population.

Thoughts?