Thursday 9 August 2012

A Brief History of Cinema in Bahrain

Earlier today, I took the liberty of adding a history section to the Cinema of Bahrain wikipedia page (evidence!) so I thought it would be worthwhile to repost here with some more data:


The first attempt to create a movie theater in Bahrain was in 1922, by the Bahraini businessman Mahmood al Sa'ati. He imported a projector and set up a makeshift cinema at a cottage on the north coast of Manama.

An old photo of Awal Cinema
The first official cinema to be established was by Abdulla Al Zayed and associates in Manama, in 1937. The cinema had no air-conditioning or heating system so the cinema was moved to an open-roofed building during the winter season with one of the walls being used as a screen. The first movie was reportedly the Egyptian movie "Wedad" starring Umm Kulthum (arguably the most popular Egyptian actress of all time).

In 1939, the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz Al Saud, visited the cinema while on a diplomatic visit with the then-Hakim Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa.

During the 1930s and 1940s, films were in black and white with the majority of them being predominately Egyptian as well as some American films. The Tarzan and 'Cowboys and Red Indians' films were reported to have been very popular in the country. Initially, the introduction of cinemas drew criticism from elderly citizens who stated that it "would destroy traditional values".[1]

During the pan-Arab era of the 20th century, Egyptian films enjoyed immense popularity in the country.

Cinemas established:

In the early 1940s, the Bahrain Petroleum Company opened a cinema in Awali for its staff. The cinema moved to a different building in Awali in 1958, but finally closed in 1991.

 In the 1950s and 1960s, eight new cinemas opened in Bahrain, including the Pearl Cinema, Al Hamra Cinema, Al Nasr Cinema and Awal Cinema, all of which were established in Manama.[2]

The old Bahrain cinema
The first cinema to open in Muharraq was Al Jazira Cinema in 1955 and it is still in use today.

The first modern-style cinema to open in Bahrain was the Delmon Cinema at the Gosi Complex in 1996, but has since closed.

 The trend for modern-style cinemas was continued by the Bahrain Cinema Company, which opened cinema complexes at Seef Mall in 1998 and in Saar in 2000 respectively.[2]

An independent cinema, Dana Cinema, was opened at the Dana Mall in Manama, in 2002.A 20-screen cinema complex was constructed in the Bahrain City Centre, the largest such cineplex in the Middle East.

  1. Charles Belgrave, an adviser to the Bahraini government at the time, wrote in his memoirs that the older Bahraini population opposed the cinema because "they thought that young people would gamble and steal to raise money for a cinema ticket".
  2.  Bahrain Cinema history

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