DUBAI (Reuters) – Movie-goers in Dubai frustrated by the closure of cinemas during the coronavirus pandemic will soon be able to watch films from the comfort of their own car at a new drive-in cinema created on the roof of one of the world’s largest shopping malls.
With social distancing mandatory in the United Arab Emirates to help curb the spread of the virus, VOX Cinemas says viewers will be limited to two per car at the open-air venue, which opens on Sunday and can accommodate up to 75 cars at a time.
Tickets cost 180 dirhams ($50) per vehicle inclusive of popcorn, snacks and drinks.
“We keep our social distancing so it’s a brilliant idea in my opinion,” Porsche driver Xavier Libbrecht told Reuters during a pre-opening event at the drive-in cinema on Wednesday.
Dubai, the UAE’s business and tourism hub, has been easing coronavirus closures and restrictions since the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began three weeks ago, allowing malls and dine-in restaurants to reopen at limited capacity.
However, children aged 3-12 and people over 60 are still barred from such venues, including the outdoor cinema, which sits on the roof of Majid Al Futtaim’s Mall of the Emirates. The screen stands under the peak of the mall’s indoor ski slope.
“Any excuse to get out the house during coronavirus times,” said Patrick, another member of a Porsche car club invited to Wednesday’s event, at which an action comedy film was shown.
“In the comfort of your own car you don’t have to worry about chewing too loud,” he added.
Cinema-goers caught a cool evening breeze, but were still switching car engines on and off for the air conditioning. Temperatures can rise above 40 degrees in Dubai during the long summer months and the humidity is oppressive.
Dubai, a major shopping and entertainment destination, has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic due to travel disruptions and closures to contain the spread of the disease.
The UAE has so far recorded 20,386 coronavirus infections and 206 deaths.
Reporting by Tarek Fahmy and Abdelhadi Ramahi; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Gareth Jones