I have been to the cinema three times since being in Al Ain. The first time was with Kassandra and we saw “Pitch Perfect”. *Side note about this movie: The character “Lilly” reminded me so much of a student that had this summer at PSU that I spent the entire movie laughing despite it being a silly teen movie.* We got there fairly early because I assumed since it was a holiday weekend, the theater would be crowded. I was wrong. There were only two other people in the theater.
Lesson #1: Just because theaters are more crowded in the U.S. during a holiday weekend doesn’t mean it will be in the UAE.
When we bought our tickets, we had to choose which seats we wanted. This felt odd. If we have never been in the theater, how would we know which seats we would want? Also if nobody else is in the theater, why does it have to be assigned seating? Maybe this is common practice in other countries as well, but it isn’t something that has caught on in Oregon/Washington yet.
Lesson #2: Even though it is assigned seating, you don’t get in trouble for moving to different seats when the theater is empty, and now we know the numbers of our preferred seats.
So since Kassandra and I were early, we decided a snack was in order. Hoping for some buttery, salty goodness that can only be found in movie theater popcorn, we headed to the refreshment counter only to realize that they don’t sell it.
Lesson #3: If you want crepes, candy, or chips, you are all set. If you go craving a bag of endless calories and deliciousness, wait until you are back in the States.
Lesson #4: Movies are subtitled in Arabic and sometimes French. I am not sure why French. I think I read somewhere that it is because they movies are edited in Lebanon. Not sure if this is true, or why that would impact the subtitles, but it is good to know.
And while we are on the subject of editing, that leads me to the next lesson that I learned when Kassandra and I saw our second movie “Twilight: Breaking Dawn part 2”.
Lesson #5: The movies in the UAE are edited for any sexual, religious, or political content.
It wasn’t so bad with Twilight. In fact, since I have never seen the non-edited version, I can’t even confirm exactly what was edited. I just have a suspicion that there must have at least been SOME kissing in the scene when Bella and Edward spend their first night together in their new home. Sometimes the editing is a little more obvious. In one rental movie, the couple started kissing and the next thing I knew, it skipped ahead three days. It made the movie really hard to follow.
Lesson #6: Just like many Emiratis don’t mind coming late to class, they also don’t mind coming late nor mind leaving early during a movie. Therefore, my lesson is that there is no need to come 20 minutes early to get good seats because nobody else will be there yet. Even on opening night of Twilight, the theater didn’t completely fill up until at least 5 minutes after the movie had already started. Also, they started to leave before the movie was even over. I found all of this rather distracting.
This all brings me to my final lesson.
Lesson #7: Although men and women are equally allowed at all the theaters in Al Ain, it became apparent during my third movie “Sinister” that some theaters are more likely to be attended by women than others. Apparently the cinemas attached to the malls have a fairly equal male to female ratio. However, the cinema attached to the Rotana hotel, is better left to the men. As my friend Geraint and I left the theater, I realized I was the only woman there. I have my theories as to why this is, but before I share them, I would like to hear yours. Why weren’t there women at this theater? **Update** The theater at the Rotana hotel has closed permanently so this is a question that I no longer need to ponder.
Looking forward to a sinful but delectable bag of popcorn with extra butter in about 3 weeks back home. Who wants to join me?