Cinema Akil: Transforming the cinema into a dining ‘majlis’

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Dubai-based Cinema Akil - the independent cinema platform - and Project Chaiwala are transforming the cinema into a dining ‘majlis’ serving casual, family-style South Asian cuisine and screening award-winning Arab films throughout the holy month.

Cinemajlis will also host games, talks, as well as performances by open mic event Blank Space including oud-qanun-piano sibling trio De3bal and feel good singer-songwriter Haranero.


Iftar will be served every night followed by films, screening at 9pm and 11pm on weekdays as well as pre-iftar screenings on weekends.

The line-up of films

Al-Daradji’s ‘The Journey’, the first Iraqi film in 27 years to be released in the theaters of Iraq and was selected as the Iraqi entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards. In Baghdad 2006, as Sara stands on the cusp of committing an unthinkable act, an unforeseen and awkward encounter gives her the opportunity to witness the potential consequences of her destructive action. But, is this a second chance or an admission of guilt?

Ahmad Abdallah’s ‘EXT. NIGHT’ touching satire, which premiered at the 2018 TIFF Contemporary World Cinema section, tackles the inner societal issues in Egypt. Aspiring young director Moe (Karim Kassem) is in the middle of an existential crisis – his film is underfinanced, his friends are being arrested and his dream projects cannot be accomplished. A taxi ride through Cairo opens his eyes and introduces him to a different side of the city.

Began as a nomadic cinema

Cinema Akil was launched in 2014 as a nomadic cinema, and has held over 60 pop-up cinemas attracting over 35,000 attendees in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

The independent cinema platform brings quality films from across the world to the audiences in the UAE. Showcasing directors and filmmakers across the decades, Cinema Akil aims to create awareness and interest in film and the cinematic arts.

In September 2018, Cinema Akil, in partnership with Alserkal Avenue, opened its first permanent location in Al Quoz, Dubai making it the GCC’s first arthouse cinema.

Cinema Akil is a member of the Network of Arab Alternative Screens (NAAS) which includes members from the MENA region such as Metropolis in Beirut, Zawya in Cairo and Cinematheque du Tangier in Morocco.

Project Chaiwala is a homegrown F&B concept serving piping hot tea by chaiwalas through a live authentic street experience in an urban setting. Ahmad Kazim and Justin Joseph founded Project Chaiwala so they could import the authentic chai experience into an urban space.

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