Dubai/Abu Dhabi: A leading cinema operator in the UAE has said it plans discussions with government officials over the demand from the Ministry of Economy for a cut in ticket prices.

Gulf Film, which operates the Grand Cinemas chain, said it was keen to explain its position after the ministry issued a circular yesterday demanding prices be cut from Dh35 to Dh30.

Salim Ramia from Grand Cinemas, which has 16 cinemas in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain, Fujairah and Ras Al Khaimah, said: "Why should we reverse now? When you are staying in Dubai and they increase your rent, are you able to do anything?

"We have to talk to the ministry and see what's the situation. We have to see the content and take it to the ministry."

As well as asking cinema companies to reverse their ticket prices, the Ministry of Economy circular also advised them against putting up food and drink prices.

The statement said the ministry is acting because some cinema houses had put up food and drink prices while not allowing customers to bring in these items from outside.

It went on to say that cinema operators should not form cartels that are against the interests of consumers.

"The ministry will take measures against those that increase prices through such cartels," the circular added.

Several cinemas yesterday confirmed that they had received the circular, although the price of a standard ticket at these theatres remained at Dh35 when Gulf News went to press.

When it increased the cost of a standard ticket from Dh30 to Dh35, Grand Cinemas defended the move by saying it was the first ticket price rise for six years and was made amid increases in rents and other operating expenses.

CineStar, which has two cinemas in Dubai, one in Ajman and one in Abu Dhabi, made a similar point at the time, saying that up until the recent increase it had not put up ticket prices since beginning operations in the UAE in 1999.

Toni Al Masih, regional cinema manager for CineStar, yesterday afternoon said he had not yet seen the circular, while officials at the company's head office would not speak to Gulf News.

Not every cinema put up its ticket prices to Dh35 a few weeks ago, with at least two cinema complexes in Abu Dhabi, National and Eldorado, charging less than Dh30 for a ticket.

A ticket at National costs Dh25 and one at Eldorado sells for Dh20, with both complexes showing Indian and English movies, targeting in particular low-income workers.

How often do you go to the movies? Are you happy with the quality of service offered by the cinemas in the UAE? What suggestions do you have for improvement?

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Your comments

I say raise the prices! Cinema is a huge waste of valuable time. It is better to raise prices to discourage people from going. Besides, cinema spreads silly ideas, influences people to act badly and creates false hopes and desires. Cinema is a seriously negative influence.

I do see more than one movie in a week, but due to the increasing cost of tickets I would rather just sit at home and watch cable TV or buy pirated CDs.

Cheaper rates should be offered to students and people who go to movie theatres at off-peak hours.

I would like to go and watch movies but the ticket cost is too high. Also, we can now just download the latest movies from the internet. So why pay when you can get it for free?
Abu Dhabi,UAE

The whole idea of watching a movie is to be at ease when doing so, but with the rising ticket cost that is going to be difficult.

I'm a movie goer but after moving to UAE, I rarely catch the movies. I'd rather pay Dh80 for DVDs. In Singapore, I could watch two movies for Dh35.
Singapore,By e-mail

Bringing down the cinema ticket rate will have a positive impact on the industry since it will attract more moviegoers.
Abu Dhabi,UAE

The increase in ticket prices is not much of a concern compared to the charges for food and drinks sold inside the cinema complexes. The rates they charge for these are somewhere between 4 to 8 times more than the normal prices outside. These prices are justifiable for any 5 star hotel, but not for cinema houses.

I think that a hike in cinema prices is justified. Rising rent costs mean that cinemas must increase their prices or face loss. If the government really wants cinemas to lower their ticket prices to Dh30 then it must provide rent cuts to cinemas.

Every where in the world, prices are cut and services are increased to attract more and more theatre viewers. That should also be the case in Dubai.

The Ministry has to step in and reduce the prices. Ticket prices seem to be the highest in the Middle East, and probably in Asia as well. The UAE should also look into how European countries offer special prices for children and senior citizens.