With cinemas closed, what happens to this year’s Eid films?

A range of high-profile films were due to premiere during the Eid holiday

Ahmed Ezz stars in the high tech thriller 'El Aref'. YouTube
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While regional television channels benefited from extra viewers at home this Ramadan due to social distancing measures against the coronavirus, the Arabic film industry is not as fortunate.

With cinemas shut across the Arab world, anticipated Eid Al Fitr blockbusters starring the likes of Ahmed El Sakka, Ahmed Ezz and Mohammed Tharwat have been pushed back to an unknown date.

According to the vice president of Egypt's Chamber of Cinema Industry, Safwat Ghattas, up to six films were set to premiere on Eid Al Fitr, which is likely begin on either Saturday, May 23, or Sunday, May 24.

"The coronavirus has a been a big problem and we have yet to receive orders to open up cinemas,"  Ghattas revealed in an interview with website ET Bil Arabi Online. "All the films will be shown after Eid. We will see what the next month holds. Maybe we will open some cinemas and see how the response is. If it's good, then we will open more and take things from there"

Let’s take a look at the delayed films that were due to come to our screens this week.

'El Aref'

Action star Ahmed Ezz trades weapons for a computer in this high-tech thriller. Ezz plays the role of financially strapped yet brilliant tech head, Yousif. After successfully robbing a bank online, his actions come back to haunt him when he is chased by a criminal gang hell-bent on revenge.

'Sundooq Al Dunya'

Rania Youssef leads a colourful ensemble cast in this drama, which looks at the quirks and pressures of living in downtown Cairo. Joining her is Khaled El Sawy, Basem Samara and Salah Abdullah, who play characters from different stratas of Egyptian society as they attempt to find emotional balance in a city that's never sleeps.

'Al-Baa’d La Yazhab L Al-Ma’zoun Maratayen'

Loosely translated to “some don’t go to the celebrant twice,” this film is surely to be a conversation starter. In his quest to find out if marriage can be long-lasting, a journalist (Karim Abdel Aziz) goes undercover to find out the dos and don'ts of relationships.

'El Ankaboot'

Meaning "The Spider", Egyptian action man Ahmed El Sakka returns in familiar action-packed territory. In a story reminiscent of US television drama Breaking Bad, Sakka plays a drug manufacturer whose business goes into free fall as people on both sides of the law come after him.


Funnyman Mohammed Tharwat is the title character in this zany comedy. Deedo's plan to rob a rich scientist (Bayoumi Fouad) goes seriously awry after discovering the doctor has supernatural powers.

'Sherit 6'

A thought-provoking drama with Abdul Rahman El Kaliouby starring as a new psychiatrist getting to grips with both his position and the range of issues facing Egyptian youth today. He knows that it takes more than prescriptions to heal the worries and traumas of this generation.