10 to try: Alternative cinemas in Dubai

Luxury class, beachside, rooftop, on the lawn and more places to watch films in Dubai

Steakhouse cinema

Food and films are a perfect pairing at this weekly event held at the Argentinian steakhouse Gaucho, which screens vintage classics of all genres. This month the screenings have a festive theme, and you can enjoy wintery wonders such as White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life. Filmgoers will also be treated to complimentary popcorn, and specials will be on offer reflecting the film schedule.
Call in advance to book your seat. Free. Mon 7.30pm. Gaucho, Gate Village, DIFC, www.facebook.com/gauchodubai (04 422 7898).

Movies on The Beach

Enjoy a super-chilled beachside experience at Dubai’s largest outdoor LED screen. During the day La Playa is a beach club but once the sun sets it’s showtime. Enjoy meals, drinks and shisha while you kick back on cool white sofas and enjoy. The venue will be hosting free screenings every evening during the Dubai International Film Festival, showing a selection of movies from the event. There’s no need to register, just rock up and tune in to independent films from around the world.
Free during Dubai Film Festival. 7.30pm. La Playa Beach Lounge, JBR, www.laplayalounge.com (050 4524558).

This multisensory cinema experience at Vox Cinemas puts you right in the heart of the film. You can feel every screeching of every corner turned in car chase scenes and the whizz of bullets flying past your ears. The seats rock and veer in sync with the action, and the purpose-built auditorium allows viewers to experience fog, wind, lightning and scents. It’s ideal for action and fantasy movies, and Vox has recently added Bollywood films to its 4DX repertoire.
Dhs125. Vox Cinemas, Deira City Centre and Mirdif City Centre, www.voxcinemas.ae (600 599905).

French New wave
Alliance Française Dubai is organising an exceptional evening on Sunday December 21, when 23 short films and documentaries will be screened over a period of seven hours at A4 Space, Alserkal Avenue. Starting at 4.30pm with films for children until 7pm, the whole movie marathon will run until 11pm with screenings suitable for an older audience.
Free. Alliance Française Dubai, Dubai Healthcare City, Oud Metha, www.afdubai.org (04 335 8712).

Movies on the lawn

Sit out on the lawn at British gastropub Reform Social & Grill and enjoy a family friendly night of entertainment. The restaurant is in the gated community of The Lakes and the film night is popular with nearby residents and regulars of the restaurant. Everything screened is suitable for general viewing and the movies this month will reflect the season with Elf, Home Alone and How the Grinch Stole Christmas all on the schedule. Popcorn, hotdogs and a selection of festive treats are also served.
Free with the purchase of food and drink. Booking essential. Tue 8pm. Reform Social & Grill, The Lakes, www.reformsocialgrill.ae (04 454 2638).

Rooftop screenings
A regular on the outdoor movie scene, Wafi hosts weekly screenings on its Pyramid Rooftop Gardens. Grab yourself a giant bean bag, get comfy and enjoy a Hollywood film for free. There’s a fun and relaxed vibe to these events. This December see Like Crazy on Sunday 7, Flight on Sunday 14 and The Best Man Holiday on Sunday 21.
Free. Sun 8.30pm. Wafi, Oud Metha, www.wafi.com (04 3244 100).

Indie films
Run by Vikas Punjabi, the monthly Loco’motion film screenings are not only for movie buffs – they also serve to bring the community together. Screenings are always free and are currently hosted at Thejamjar in Al Quoz. Vikas chooses the films and invites social media followers to make suggestions. He screened films including My Left Foot and The Vanishing of Bees in the past. Whatever the independent film you’ll be treated to a night of thought-provoking cinema that’s suitable for the whole family.
Free. See Facebook for next screening. The Jam Jar, Al Quoz, www.facebook.com/locomotionuae.

World cinema
Founded in 2007 by Emirati director Nayla Al Khaja, The Scene Club, Dubai’s only major independent film club, has been attracting hundreds of fans to its monthly screenings, giving them a chance to engage with pictures shown at film festivals around the world. The club aims to screen new movies, and with backing from the Dubai International Film Festival, it’s exempt from censorship rules, so brings the best of independent cinema to movie buffs completely uncut. Due to the popularity of the club, organisers have started to run the screenings over two consecutive nights each month to meet demand. The Scene Club also aims to invite the film’s director or screenwriter to take part in a Q&A after the screening. The atmosphere in the centre before each screening tends to be lively as the crowd mingle, nibble on free popcorn and take fun pictures in the photo booths. The next screening will be Costa Rican documentary A Small Section of the World, on Sunday December 8 and Monday 9.
Free. 7.30pm. Monthly. The Scene Club, The Conference Centre, Dubai Knowledge Village, www.thesceneclub.com (04 391 0051).

Heritage and Culture
The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding hosts a series of films monthly at the Majlis Café. The movies or documentaries shown are usually quite short and reflect an element of UAE life or heritage, which tourists and residents then discuss in a Q&A session held afterwards.
Free. Register online to attend. The Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, Al Fahidi Neighbourhood, Bur Dubai, www.cultures.ae (04 353 6666).

Gold class

Not a Hollywood movie star but you want to feel like one when you go to the cinema? Then the Vox Gold experience is for you. Admittedly this is more about the environment and extras than the film, but it’s a fun way to really make a night at the movies stand out. You’ll be as comfortable here as in your own home with fully reclining armchairs. And to top it all off, you’ll also get a gourmet menu of burgers, oriental starters, snacks and fresh juices delivered to you at your seat while you watch the latest blockbusters.
Dhs120 per person for tickets. Over 18s only. Vox Cinemas, Mall of the Emirates and Mirdif City Centre, www.voxcinemas.com (600 599905).

DIY movie nights

Movie night isn’t movie night without popcorn, hotdogs or a big screen. These nifty electricals will get your home screenings off to the best start.

Emoji Popcorn Maker

This colourful popper will deliver you fresh fluffy popcorn every time.
Dhs95, Carrefour, various locations including Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha, www.carrefouruae.com (04 409 4899).

Hotdog Maker by Bestron
Make all your pals happy in a matter of minutes. This nifty device heats up to 12 hotdogs at once and the vertical rods on the front warm the rolls.
Dhs139, www.souq.com (04 437 0900).

Benq W1070 DLP Projector
Now you’ve got the food sorted, it’s time to get working on the visuals. This high-tech projector will get your choice of film beamed onto a big screen (or a plain white wall) in impressive quality.
Dhs3,999, Sharaf DG, various locations including Times Square Center, Al Quoz (800 344 357).

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