Watching movies in the UAE: What’s it like?

Dubai cinema

It’s been quite a while since I last wrote a “What’s it like?” post to give you readers who are not living in the UAE a glimpse of our life here. This time, I’d like to let you take a peek of what it’s like to watch a movie or go to a movie house in the UAE (Dubai, specifically, where I live).

First, Hollywood movies are up to date. Unlike in Japan where we previously lived, we have to wait for months (minimum 2!) after a Hollywood premier to be able to catch a movie in a cinema there because of the translation stuff, here in Dubai,  it’s almost simultaneous premier and showing as in the US. The cinemas are very modern and plenty too – some have VIP perks like premium chairs that recline and butlers to serve your every wish and whim. The average cost of a normal movie ticket for one person is AED 35 (approx US$10).

I’m quite happy with the cinemas, the show timings, the ticket price. My major issue of movies shown here is the censorship.

A few nights ago, one of my all time favorite movies, “My Bestfriend’s Wedding” was on tv. I do not normally watch TV at night but when I saw this, I had to sit down even if I have memorized each scene and dialogue – the jello and creme brulee scene, yep, even my daughter has memorized that by heart!

Anyway, the movie is pretty clean scene wise but the words “gay” and “f*ck” were bleeped out. Ok, I can handle that. Then cue what must be the most important part of the movie – where Jules professes her love for her guy best friend Michael on the day of his wedding in an attempt to win him again and choose her (don’t roll your eyes until you’ve watched it!).

*Spoiler after this but this movie is old, like more than 10-years-ago old. Like, which-cave-did-you-hide-from-that-you-haven’t-watched-this-movie old so I will go ahead and spill the scene *

Jules then kisses Michael then his bride to be, Kimmy sees it. In typical girly shock, Kimmy runs and Michael runs after her.

That was the original/uncut scene.

But what happens when you watch it here in the UAE? Jules says I love you, choose me, blah blah blah…and…cut to the scene when Kimmy runs.You can watch the video capture of that scene here.

I swear to God, if it’s your first time seeing this movie, you would need a fork to scratch your head as to what happened that made Kimmy run. Ok, the two co-ed best friends were standing in a Gazebo, staring close at each other but is that a valid reason to ran like a mad woman?

The cut version just doesn’t make sense. Thank God, I have watched the original version (like 100x).

So that’s the rundown of Hollywood movie in Dubai tv. Now on to the movies at the cinema.

Yesterday, I made an important life decision to watch the new Nicholas Sparks movie “The Best of Me” which was showing at the cinemas here. I’ve never been a fan of Sparks (and actually HATE The Notebook and his other book-movie movies – stop throwing stones!) but a friend of mine insisted that I watch it.

And I did. Because sometimes, you love your friend too much, that love overshadows your hate for sappy Sparks movies. 

Before that, I’ve watched a few versions of the trailer of the new Sparks movie and told myself, hmmm, cozy. I’ll watch it for a change.

I went inside the cinema expecting to cry. I did for some parts of it but that cozy, romantic, warm, fuzzy feelings escaped me when I had to bear heavy scene butchering. Minor kissing scenes, including the young sweetheart’s first kiss(!), the love scenes (ok you can cut that) BUT really? ALL the kissing scenes were cut, no matter if it was a peck or a kiss that lasts 5 seconds.

And I heard a baby cry inside the cinema.

So what is the point of assigning a movie rating (PG, R13, R18) if the scenes are still heavily butchered? So parents can bring babies to the movie house?

Also I find it hard to digest that all kissing scenes were cut but VIOLENT scenes were shown completely, in all its bloody gory, even if it obviously overkill. (Yes, there’s violence in this piece of Nicholas Sparks weeper.)

But I get it. I have to be thankful that we, most especially women have the liberty to go to the movies anytime we want even unaccompanied. It’s perfectly safe to do so. Some countries in the Middle East don’t offer that simple privilege. 

But while I get it, I will spare myself from watching movies of romantic genre in cinemas here from now on. It’s pointless. It is a waste of time and money and nachos calories. Too much censorship and the movie actually loses the very essence of the story. Those small pecks and kisses and raw emotions do matter, they are part of the flow of the story, after all. I will wait for the DVD.


I don’t know if it’s just me that’s thinking about this but wouldn’t it be great to have a separate showing for censored and uncensored movies? Like those who don’t like to see pecks and kisses and love scenes for whatever reason can see it in a different theater room and then there’s another room for the uncut and original version, proceed at your own risk type of stuff? C’mon, tell me you thought this would’ve been awesome too!

UAE Cinema bans kids after 7pm

As if that blog title needs any more elaborating, yes, a huge move: UAE’s Grand Cinemas bans kids (below 5 years old) in theaters after 7pm.

Why do parents insist on bringing young children to the theater late at night? Aren’t you too familiar with that little brat kicking your seat behind you like he’s in the middle of karate class?

Why do parents think it is a good idea to bring an infant to a movie? I love babies (but you already know that) but not crying inside the movie house, please! The crying sound is more overbearing than the restless teenagers behind me, screaming and squealing and clapping every time Jacob came on the screen and took off his shirt.

A little education: infants do NOT understand the concept of movies. They might be afraid of the dark. They cannot guarantee you their diaper will still be dry after 2 hours. Most of them gets pissed when their diapers are wet. And news flash parents: medically, the loud cinema sound is not good for your little bub’s ears!

The most annoying part is when the parent will not take the crying baby out to the hallway or simply leave the theater and return in about 5 years.

So there, thank you Grand Cinemas for taking the initiative of showing clueless parents that the young ones’ appropriate place after 7pm is at home, getting ready for cozy bedtime, not inside a loud, crowded and dark place like the movie house.

Do you know of other theater companies that have kid policies or do other things to keep disruption down?

my mom was tugging my skirt

… and telling me to rent, buy, get hold of it, whatever means I can. I told her I’ll try and on the first day, she never asked me about it. On the second day, she asked me again and days after that.

Today, she’ll be happy because I’m bringing it home. Finally we can have peace in the house and on Friday on our dayoff, we can all stay home and have a nice quite time.

Any idea how many hours it would take to watch all three Indiana Jones movie?

PG15 Dubai style

I saw Indy on screen again! I saw Indy on screen again!

We squeezed ourselves into the pack of moviegoers on a Thursday night – somewhat like catching the first available flight in the middle of a holiday season. Friday is dayoff for most working people in Dubai so Thursdays are usually mall shopping and movie flocking days.

I felt we will not be able to get any tickets at first, but so surprised that there were seats left for the four of us (me, M, Pristine and my mom). The movie rating was PG15, meaning the movie is suited for young audiences if they are 15 years old or above. Our babe is just 4.5 years old so they must have assumed she had the mental age of 15 because they still sold the tickets to us. I won’t complain though, I badly wanted to get into that movie house!

Movie will start at 7:30 pm and by 7, we finished eating dinner, unloading our bladder and already snickering in our seats with popcorn in hand. Oh, I know why we got the tickets despite the huge premier night hype – the only seats available are front row seats and we are seated on the 5th row from the screen! The horror. Talk about gigantic people and blasting ear-damaging sound in front of our eyes.

The movie started after 15 minutes of commercials and movie previews! It was not like this when we watched Harry Potter last year! Then everyone was silent when the much awaited movie started. Almost immediately, I can hear cries of babies and there were no babies in the Indy movie scene. I looked around.

There were infants and toddlers inside the movie house!! PG15!? The parents (including myself but Pristine is so mature and can sit down in one full length movie, trust me) must have thought PG15 meant for 15 months ?? I wished the mom took the crying baby out because the wails just kept going louder and louder. Then out of nowhere another baby cried.

All in all, despite some babies crying here and there, we thoroughly enjoyed the movie. My mom could not stop laughing at the Indy jokes, scream during breathtaking scenes – yeah she was screaming with excitement but let’s give her a break, she has not been into a movie house for more than 10 years! 🙂

My say of the movie? Despite what the critics say, you go watch it! If you liked the first three Indiana Jones movie, there is absolutely no reason for you to hate this one. In fact, I admire Harrison Ford for putting up with the physically challenging scenes despite his age. I am sure the critics who are much, much younger than him couldn’t even match even half his moves.