Alongside a restaurant style meal…

Cinemas across the capital are currently closed until further notice as part of Abu Dhabi’s public safety measures. But when the big screens do return, some of them could be operating a little differently.

A circular issued by the Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi (DCT) on January 19, 2021 set out updates to Abu Dhabi’s policy on alcohol advertising and licensing rules.

One of these updates seemed to open the door for licensed ‘cinemas and theatres’ to serve adult beverages in specific circumstances, and following a strict set of rules.

The circular states: “Liquor may be served and consumed at movie theatres with Premium/Gold set up and that have International Chef menus available” as long as the venue follows the requirements set out below:

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  • First, the company must obtain a license (for a fee of Dhs25,000), and only ‘light alcohol’ is permitted to be served.
  • These adult drinks are only allowed to offered during screenings of movies and events with a PG15 or higher rating, and obviously only to non-muslims over the age of 21.
  • Beverages containing alcohol can only be served, one drink at a time.
  • Cinemas and theatres will need to have a set up for serving in-seat, restaurant style food in a separate ‘Premium/Gold’ section of the screen.
  • The beverages must be served by cinema staff, directly to the guest’s seat.
  • The venue must provide sufficient security during showings where alcohol is served, and customers are not permitted to exit the screening area with the drink.

Of course before any of this happens, each outlet will require approval from the DCT. And we have had no confirmations of either independent or chain cinemas that are planning to implement this facility.

Images: Getty