Vox Cinemas closed by Qatar health inspectors
Updated at 2pm with new statement from Vox Cinemas
Less than four months after it opened, Vox Cinemas at Doha Festival City (DFC) has temporarily closed for health violations.
The 18-screen luxury movie theater was ordered to shut last Thursday (Aug. 10) by inspectors for flouting the country’s food and hygiene laws.
The shutters are down at the entrance of the cinema complex and stickers issued by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME/Baladiya) are attached to the entrance.
The notices state that the premises were closed for “violating humans’ food control,” in breach of municipal laws and regulations.
The MME usually posts details of such closures online.
But its site has not been updated with information of the cinema closure and it is unclear how long Vox will be remain shut.
Initially, some residents wondered if the closure was due to the ongoing dispute with Qatar’s neighbors.
Vox is operated by the UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim Group.
But in a statement to Doha News, Vox Cinemas said its Qatar outpost is “temporarily closed due to essential work behind the scenes to improve the cinema going experience for our guests.”
It later added:
“We are working with the Doha Festival City mall team to correct some concerns by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment that were raised in their recent inspections, and have taken immediate action to ensure that the Municipality’s requirements are exceeded at all times.
At VOX Cinemas, we are committed to providing a safe and enjoyable environment for our guests.”
It has not responded to requests for more details.
Publicly, Vox tweeted last week that its theaters had shut due to “maintenance” issues. But this post has since been deleted.
It later posted a more general notice about its closure.
Meanwhile, a DFC spokesperson told Doha News that there was an “operational issue.”
“At Doha Festival City, ensuring our visitors’ have the best experience with us is of the utmost importance.
Hence we support our partner VOX Cinemas’ decision to temporarily close while they resolve an operational issue. We look forward to welcoming guests back soon.”
The closure comes less than four months after Vox Cinemas opened to the public, on April 26 this year.
The multiplex has 18 screens, including theaters providing multi-sensory 4D viewing.
In addition to providing the usual cinema snacks of popcorn, chips and chocolate, Vox also has a private lounge where viewers can eat a meal with dishes created by Michelin-starred chef Gary Rhodes while they watch a movie.
It is unclear which of Qatar’s food laws Vox violated to bring officials to order its temporary closure.
Inspectors from the MME regularly undertake spot checks of all food establishments across the country, from local grocery stores and warehouses to mall restaurants and five-star hotels.
They have the power to order penalty closures of between a few days to two months if they find serious breaches.
The MME typically shuts establishments if they are found to have had expired foodstuffs, are selling food unfit for consumption or have been preparing food in unhygienic conditions.
At least three other establishments were closed this month, according to MME’s website.
Yasrib Cafeteria, which serves affordable Indian fare in the Souq area, was closed on Aug. 9 for one month, for preparing food in unhygienic conditions.
On the same day, Indian eatery Lodz restaurants in Al Thumama was ordered to close for 10 days, also for unhygienic conditions.
Meanwhile yesterday, the butchery department at Big Bazaar hypermarket in Umm Slal Ali was shut for two weeks after inspectors found meat without an expiry date and with no information about its origins.