The number of cinema screens inside multiplexes in Qatar is set to double by the end of this year, as new movie theaters are expected to open in four shopping malls by December.
There are currently 48 cinema screens operating inside of six theaters, but a total of 47 new multiplex screens are expected to launch in Qatar in the coming months.
The new Gulf Mall, next to Ezdan, is set to have a 13-screen multiplex cinema run by Bahrain Cinema Company (Cineco) by the fall, the company’s CEO chief executive Ahmed Rashed told Gulf Daily News last month.
While there is no official launch date yet for this mall, some stores, including the low-price clothing and home goods store Matalan, have already begun trading, with more set to follow soon.
— Matalan Middle East (@matalanme) March 24, 2015
Cineco also plans to finally open a three-screen cinema in Al Khor Mall as early as April, if the launch time of the “start of the second quarter of the year” works out.
In March last year, the company’s Chairman Dr. Essam Fakhro told shareholders at the annual general meeting that plans to launch the two new cinemas had suffered set-backs.
“Our new projects of 13 screens Cineplex in Gulf Mall and three screens Cineplex in Al Khor Mall, both in Qatar, are delayed because of the mall management,” Gulf Daily News quoted him as saying at the time.
Cineco currently operates 27 cinema screens in Qatar, including the movie theater at City Center Mall.
The under-construction Twar Mall on Al Markhiya Street (down the road from Landmark Mall) will also have a 12-screen movie theater, including two VIP screens and a VIP lounge, when opens by the end of this year, its manager Raid Maddah told Doha News.
The cinema will be run by Qatar Cinema and Film Distribution Company, which also runs nine screens across three cinemas at Landmark Mall, Royal Plaza and The Mall, Gulf Times reports.
Current progress on construction of Twar Mall makes the scheduled year-end launch date seem ambitious. But when the development does finally open its doors, the shopping center will also include a four-star Millennium Hotel and what will be Qatar’s first SPAR hypermarket.
The brand, which began in The Netherlands in the 1930s, has stores in 40 countries internationally and is embarking on an expansion throughout the Middle East, with 30 stores set to open by 2016, SPAR said in a statement on its website.
The QR1.8 billion Twar Mall will be three floors, with 265 stores as well as eating areas and entertainment, and two basement levels of parking for 2,600 cars.
Its features will include an oriental-themed rooftop garden, a 1,000-seater food court, a family entertainment center and an as-yet unnamed department store.
Mall of Qatar
Meanwhile, Mall of Qatar, on Dukhan Road near Al Rayyan stadium, is also eyeing an official opening date of the end of this year, although that deadline may be pushed back.
And the opening of Doha Festival City, currently set for late 2016, should further boost the movie theater provision in Qatar. Its 19-screen VOX cinema complex will bring to the country for the first time 4D features.
This will allow viewers to experience sensations as well as visuals – such as rain, fog, wind, bubbles, scents and vibrations – depending on what’s happening on-screen.
The increase in the number of movie theaters in Qatar appears to reflect a growing appetite among the population for cinema.
According to the Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics‘ 29th edition of Qatar in Figures which was released last month, the cinema audience in Qatar rose by 41 percent in the two years from 2011 to 2013, with 2.43 million visits to cinemas in 2013, compared to 1.59 million two years’ prior.
However, as the number of multiplex and top-price VIP rises, there remains very few affordable cinema seats in Qatar.
So far, only two cinemas – Gulf Cinema and West End Park Cinema – which each have two screens each – provide a cheaper movie experience for the hundreds of thousands of low-income workers in Qatar. For a number of months, both were closed for renovations.
Gulf Cinema, Qatar’s oldest standalone movie theater, is located in Najma and closed with no notice in early 2013. The popular haunt was supposed to open by the middle of last year.
This week, operator QCFDC said it would reopen by fall this year after renovations, according to the Gulf Times.
Meanwhile, at least one screen at West End Park cinema reopened earlier this month after it was temporarily closed in January this year following a change of management. The other screen is expected to reopen soon, with two more to follow.
Note: This article was edited on April 1 after we were advised by Doha Festival City that the number of cinema screens there will be 19, up from the original 15 planned.