A free drive-in cinema will soon open in Sharjah offering nightly films

Entry will be free to enter on a first come, first served basis to up to 150 vehicles per night

Urban Entertainment Dubai will soon be rolling out drive-in movie theatres across the UAE. Courtesy Urban Entertainment Dubai
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A new drive-in cinema will open in Sharjah on July 1, offering nightly movies for free on a first-come first-served basis.

The cinema will be housed in Madar at Aljada, the emirate's brand-new 2.2-square-kilometre entertainment complex located in its Muwaileh district.

The family-friendly destination opened in February, and contains a number of activities and attractions including an events hall, an amphitheatre, a children’s adventure zone and a skatepark.

Movie Nights at Aljada will screen films every day at 8pm. Visitors to the permanent cinema, which has a capacity of 150 vehicles, will be allocated specific parking spaces and will be able to access the sound of the movie via FM radio.

This means cars will need to run throughout the film, in order to keep their air-conditioning running, as there is no centralised AC unit.

And if you get peckish mid-movie, you'll have the choice of 17 different types of cuisine located nearby, at Zad at Aljada, the development's new food district. You'll be able to order from your car, and meals will then be delivered to you "in a contactless and safe manner".

During the screening, guests will not be allowed to leave their vehicles, unless they need to visit the restroom, in which case they will need to notify a member of the security team.

The full schedule of films will be uploaded onto the Aljada website before the launch date, as well as its social media channels.

The cinema is being launched in collaboration with Dubai-based Urban Entertainment, who are behind a number of outdoor cinemas in the UAE. This is their first drive-in cinema concept in the country.

Michael Hayes, the company's chief executive, told The National last week that the Sharjah concept had been in the pipeline prior to the pandemic.

This would be followed by drive-in cinemas in Ras Al Khaimah and Dubai.

Ahmed Alkhoshaibi, chief executive of Arada, says the pandemic had "forced us to rethink our approach" at Madar at Aljada in "a number of ways".

After the site welcomed more than 60,000 visitors in March, it was forced to suspend weekend activities and close down large areas of the site.

"In addition, we realised we could not screen outdoor films in the way we had originally intended, so we began discussions with Dubai-based Urban Entertainment at the end of March with a view to launching a drive-in cinema," he says.

Alkhoshaibi says the films will include a mix of family-friendly regional favourites and international blockbusters.

"However, in line with Sharjah’s long association with culture and the arts, we also hope to showcase the talent of local filmmakers at special screenings and potentially even short film festivals."

“Movie Nights at Aljada is a significant addition to the list of attractions on offer at Madar at Aljada, and it is also our way of thanking the Sharjah community for its strength and resilience during these exceptionally challenging times," Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, chairman of Arada, said.

"We look forward to welcoming guests back to Aljada and providing them with a safe form of entertainment.”

It's the second drive-in cinema to open in the UAE in a matter of days. Last week, a vintage-style drive-in cinema was announced for Mall of the Emirates.

The drive-in cinema set-up is located on level three of the mall's car park (near Ski Dubai).

But the concept is not new for the UAE. If anything, they are a nostalgic hark back to the '80s and '90s when open-air cinemas were a popular sight. In Dubai, drive-in movie theatre Rex Cinema was a local favourite.

Sharjah is also the site of the UAE's very first cinema, located at the RAF Sharjah base and open to soldiers and locals. Sharjah Paramount opened 77 years ago, and began the emirate's affinity with the cinema.