x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Cinemas may ban babies from all films

Many residents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi feel that infants should not be allowed into the cinemas at all, whatever time of day.

The management at Grand Cinemas say the age restriction guidelines are “very strict”.
The management at Grand Cinemas say the age restriction guidelines are “very strict”.

Bosses at a cinema chain say they might ban infants from movie theatres - but only if customers demand it.

Grand Cinemas, which has locations in malls across the country, lets infants into G and PG-rated films until 7pm, after which all children under the age of 5 are not allowed access.

However, many residents in Dubai and Abu Dhabi feel that infants should not be allowed into the cinemas at all, whatever time of day.

Andy Fordham of Grand Cinemas said the age restriction guidelines were "very strict", adding that people would not be admitted if they were not within the age limit.

He said a policy to ban infants completely would be something they "may consider doing in the future, if there's sufficient demand".

He added that it is difficult to find a happy medium because of the many cultures in the UAE.

"Not everyone has the luxury to drop the kids off at the grandparents, so if people do want to bring them to the cinema, we provide them with the option," he said.

However, on top of ringing mobile phones, noisy snacks and people talking through the movie, some cinemagoers see children in the auditorium as the final straw.

Danielle Ghanem, a Lebanese nurse and mother of two, said bringing a baby to the cinema is "the worst thing you can do".

Mrs Ghanem, who lives in Abu Dhabi, said she would "never" take her young children to a movie until they are older than 4.

"If the baby starts crying it will bother other people," she said.

The loud volume of the films can also scareinfants, she said, adding that "it's just not good for them".

Mrs Ghanem said she wishes she had the courage to approach people who insist on bringing youngsters to movies and "convince them not to do it ever again".

She added it would be "good" to ban infants from being allowed in the cinemas all together.

The Dubai-based mother Alejandra Salazar, from Ecuador, said she does not take her six-month-old daughter with her to any public places, even restaurants.

She said it is "part of parenthood" to give up certain privileges, such as going to the cinema.

"People are so selfish when they take their kids out so late, way past their bedtime," Mrs Salazar said. "And of course they start crying because they're tired."

A mother on the website expatwoman.com said she would sometimes be "desperate for a trip out in the evening" when her child was still a baby. She wrote: "Before I had help, the little guy had to tag along; they are pretty portable when they are babies and as long as they aren't disturbing you, what's the problem?"

The child development psychologist Naeema Jiwani said that people should consider the "lack of an extended support network for expats", such as parents, friends and other relatives.

"Some don't really have a choice; They either can't afford a full-time nanny, and getting a part-time one is a big concern because they can't always trust them," said Ms Jiwani, who works at the Human Relations Institute in Dubai's Knowledge Village.

However, she said babies could suffer a "minor trauma" from being in a dark environment with loud noises, which could possibly have a negative affect on them for a few years.

"Adults have a mental cognitive capacity so they know what to expect when they go to the cinema; But for a baby it can be a complete shock," she said.

Ms Jiwani added people either need to find a caregiver they can trust or learn how to compromise.

molson@thenational.ae