Drive-in movies in Dubai

Paul Clifford finally gets a chance to live his drive-in dream. Almost

The Knowledge

For some reason, when I was young I was obsessed with 1950s America.

I listened to rock ’n’ roll and doo-wop, singing along to Buddy Holly, Elvis, and my favourite singer Dion Di Mucci (from Dion and the Belmonts).

I loved the clothes and the cars, the fun fairs and the hair – though I’m still trying to get that last part right.

I’m not sure how my love blossomed, but it was probably with Happy Days, which seemed to be on the TV all the time (repeats, I’m not that old). That love was cemented when I saw Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in Back to the Future, (my favourite film), and its sequel.

One of the main things I became obsessed with was drive-in cinemas. They looked so cool on the silver screen, groups of teenage boys and girls rolling up in their Cadillacs and Chevys to watch the latest sci-fi or horror B-movie – It Came From Outer Space, Attack Of The Puppet People or The Killer Shrews, perhaps. The thing is, they didn’t really exist in England when I was young. And anyway, I didn’t start driving until I was 27 and for 90 percent of the year, the North East of England isn’t somewhere you want to spend a lot of time outdoors in the evening.

So my drive-in dream died a death before the engine had even warmed up. However, in Dubai, with its somewhat warmer climate, I’ve found open-air cinemas not only exist but have a great alternative programme to the mainstream venues. On page 12 of this magazine, you can read about the great places for movie-goers to enjoy an al fresco film, and while there are none with space for people to park their Pontiacs yet, it could happen.

I went along to the park at JLT and watched Ponyo, an animation from Japan’s acclaimed Studio Ghibli. Now stick with me while I explain what it’s all about. A magical goldfish, with the face of a little girl, hitches a ride on the back of a jellyfish to the surface of the sea. Once there she sees a young boy and licks a cut on his finger, which heals him and gives her the ability to transform into a human-fish hybrid. She tries to escape the sea and her father – a former human who is making magic potions to try and rid the earth of human life – and live with the boy (they’re both five). By escaping the sea she causes a tsunami, which is in danger of submerging the earth unless she becomes a full-time human, which will only happen if the boy declares his love for her. I won’t spoil the ending.

The point of that long-winded description has escaped me, other than to say it was a great evening and you should check out the rest of Studio Ghibli’s films and the outdoor cinema at JLT. You might see me there, I’ll be the one with the hoverboard.

Paul Clifford is our guides and supplements editor. He’s definitely not working on Time Out’s Ultimate Guide to rock ’n’ roll.

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