Outdoor cinema in Dubai

Enjoy films in the park, on the beach, on a roof and more outdoor places

As the weather warms up and the evenings get balmy, Time Out Dubai heads outdoors to bring you the city’s top spots to enjoy films in the open, with bucketloads of popcorn.

The outdoor cinema season is in bloom. With screenings covering every genre from biopics and dramas to rom-coms and action flicks, there’s an al fresco film to suit all of you. But it’s not just about catching a good flick in the park. These screenings are bringing the entire community together with entertainment, too, so step outside and get watching!

JLT Park

Set in JLT’s new park, this free outdoor cinema screens kids’ films on a Friday and films for adults on a Saturday night. All screenings start at 7.30pm, though there is entertainment before they start and a good array of food stalls and independent traders selling arts and crafts. The venue has a lovely family vibe, and regardless of which night you visit, there will be a good atmosphere to enjoy the movies. And there’s no need to worry too much about chatter from the crowd, for the most part people are respectful when the film is on. Whoever is curating the films seems to have an interest in left-leaning politics, previous films have included Che Guevara biopic The Motorcycle Diaries and this week sees a screening of Communist East Germany-based movie Goodbye Lenin!
Free. Fri and Sat 7.30pm. The amphitheatre in front of Armada Towers, Cluster P, JLT, www.greateventsdubai.com.

Best for: Families and those who like their movies with a thought-provoking slant.

Worst for: Film fans who have a passion for action.

Snack attack: Food stalls so far include Wokyo, Sumo Sushi & Bento, itzza pizza and Le CréParis.

Coming soon!
Spirited Away (March 13), Searching for Sugarman (March 14), Gnomes & Trolles (March 27), Paris Je’taime (March 28), The Cat Returns, (April 10), Life in a Day (April 11).

La Playa Lounge

The largest outdoor cinema screen in the UAE, the 20m x 10m high-definition screen shows classic films and sport, and offers a unique way to enjoy films on a warm evening. The rows of white sofas attract those who are happy to relax with shisha and a plate of nachos, as well as people coming to watch the nightly screening. Movie fans are given headsets to hear the audio – since the venue is essentially a lounge first and a cinema experience second, so music still plays on the speakers – and films are often played with Arabic subtitles. Films shown here are generally about a year or two old, and in between screenings, sports fans can catch the latest national or international football match. The seating area is comfortable and if the outdoor temperature dips, staff will happily provide you with a blanket. Though this isn’t a venue for diehard movie fans – you may prefer a more immersive experience – it’s certainly a fun place to chill out and enjoy an al fresco flick.
Dhs50 per person for headsets. Daily 6pm and 9pm. The Beach, JBR, www.laplayalounge.com (055 260 9650).

Best for: Action and comedy

Worst: Tense dramas and any film where close attention is required.

Snack attack: Order the black angus cheeseburger for a pre-movie munch.

La Playa Lounge doesn’t have a monthly schedule but for daily updates keep an eye on the venue’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/laplayalounge.

Reform Social & Grill

Fairy lights, picnic tables, comfy outdoor sofas and beanbags are the set up at this British-themed venue. Book a table if you feel like tucking into hotdogs and burgers – which are tasty – but we suggest arriving early to bag a comfy seat in front of the screen, order a pitcher of fruity British mixed drink, grab some popcorn and pick ’n’ mix (served out of big old-fashioned jars) and settle in. The large projector screen isn’t obstructed from any angle and the sound is clear and loud – even from relatively far back. Although there is an adjoining play area, we wouldn’t recommend taking children – the films aren’t all appropriate for younger ages and, due to the bar, the crowd is mainly adult. Months are themed and range from romance, chick flicks and comedy to fantasy and ’80s revival. Most of the films showing are light-hearted and nostalgic with lots of old favourites such as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Back to the Future and Legally Blonde. Overall, the experience is a relatively civilised affair that makes for a quiet and pleasant evening.
Free. Pick ’n’ mix from Dhs5, popcorn from Dhs15. Tue 8pm. The Lakes, www.reformsocialgrill.ae (04 454 2638).

Best for: Light-hearted nostalgic movies such as Four Weddings and a Funeral

Worst for: Action thrillers

Snack attack: Grab hotdogs, pick ’n’ mix and popcorn, plus refreshing mixed drinks.

Coming soon!
Look forward to a month of ’80s classics in March when films on show will include Ghostbusters, The Goonies, Back to the Future and Stand by Me.


Movie-goers can sit on the giant beanbags in the expansive sunken pit in front of the large projector screen at Movies Under the Stars in the rooftop garden at Wafi Pyramids. The screen is large and the sound is just at the right level for film fans to enjoy the screening comfortably, though the contrast of the screen is a little dark. A multitude of tasty snacks are available and there’s also a full bar. We’d advise being patient for your snacks, though, and order once the film starts to avoid the mad rush at the beginning. Staff take orders from the ground – if you head over to the bar area, you’ll end up waiting an age to place your order and even longer to collect your food. Overall, it’s a comfortable outdoor cinema experience. Take a fleeced blanket to wrap yourself in to truly get that home away from home feel.
Free. Sun 8pm. Wafi Pyramids Rooftop Gardens, Oud Metha, www.pyramidsrestaurantsatwafi.com (04 324 4100).

Best for: Feeling like you’re in your own living room watching a rom-com.

Worst for: Action movies. The screen just isn’t as clear as it should be.

Snack attack: Pick from popcorn, burgers, shawarmas and cheesy nachos.

Coming soon!
Young Adult (March 1), Big Miracle (March 8), Scent of a Woman (March 15), The Change-Up (March 22), This is 40 (March 29).

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