Lebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe arriving for the Premiere of her movie 'Halawet Rooh' at a movie theatre in the town of Dbayeh, North of Beirut. Image Credit: AFP

The National Media Council (NMC), the UAE body tasked with approving films for cinematic release, on Thursday said that they haven’t asked for the suspension of Arabic film Halawet Al Rooh in the UAE.

The Haifa Wehbe film was on Wednesday was pulled from screens in Egypt after complaints about its sexual content. The film released in 28 cinemas the UAE on April 10 and this week was the third most-watched film in the country, with four-day weekend admission of 26,453, according to statistics from local film distributors. Only Rio 2 and Captain America: Winter Soldier had more viewers.

A spokesperson for Vox Cinemas on Thursday told tabloid! the film was pulled from UAE screens on Thursday morning, saying it was banned after censors viewed it for a second time. The film is distributed by Gulf Film, who have not made any comment as yet.

“We didn’t confiscate it or withdraw the film after eight days of its release. Maybe the distributors made that decision. You should ask the producers or distributors of that film,” said Juma Obaid Al Leem, director of the Media Content Tracking Department at the NMC. However, he added that he had received several complaints about cinemas not respecting the 18+ rating issued by NMC.

“We heard that some cinemas were allowing people under 18 years of age to watch the film and that they were not obliging or respecting our rating. So we checked and gave them instructions to strictly adhere to it and had meeting with them about it,” said Al Leem. When asked which local cinema had flouted rules, he declined to name them.

The film, the title of which translates to Beauty of the Soul, is said to have been inspired by Monica Bellucci’s 2000 hit “Malena”, and revolves around Rooh, played by dark-haired pop star Wehbe, who ignites passion among the men in her neighbourhood when her husband is away.