All photos by Elysia Windrum
Gulf Cinema, Qatar’s oldest standalone movie theater, is now undergoing renovations with the expectation that it would reopen in four months’ time, the CEO of the complex has said.
The cinema, which is located on C ring in Najma, was closed with no notice in early 2013.
At the time, officials at the complex said that it was due to re-open “within a few weeks,” but it has remained closed ever since, with no official news of its future, prompting speculation that it might be demolished to make way for a new development.
Now, however, CEO of the Qatar Cinema and Film Distribution Company (QCFDC) Ali Ishaq Hussain al-Ishaq has told journalists that renovation work has begun on the site.
Speaking to Doha News, however, a manager at QCFDC would only confirm that the work was still “in the design stage” but that the group still hoped to open the cinema “in a few months.”
Al-Ishaq recently 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” – a comment that suggests that the cinema’s abrupt and prolonged closure may have been due to a failure to meet Civil Defense requirements.
During a visit to the cinema yesterday, Doha News saw no obvious signs of work being carried out on the exterior of the building, but a member of staff working nearby said that building work was taking place in the upstairs of the complex.
The re-opening of the 30,000sqm complex is likely to be welcomed by many of the country’s lower-income expats, who were the cinema’s primary customers.
Unable to visit many of the city’s most popular mall-based movie theaters at weekends during to “family only” rules, many so-called bachelor workers 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.
Speaking at a press conference, Al-Ishaq acknowledged that this sector of the public was still under-served, despite the recent opening of a multiplex for workers and families at West End Park, near the Industrial Area.
As well as re-opening Gulf Cinema, QCFDC has unveiled plans to expand its portfolio beyond its existing movie theaters at Landmark, The Mall and Royal Plaza.
Its CEO has said that it will open new screen at malls which have either been recently completed or are currently under construction in the city, but declined to identify which these were.