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Javier Pérez de la Cruz
Multimedia Journalist
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piqer: Javier Pérez de la Cruz
Tuesday, 06 November 2018

Discovering Dubai's History Through A Demolished Cinema

Dubai's image today is inseparably linked to that of a global business hub. Skyscrapers, like the Burj Khalifa, or artificial archipelagos, such as Palm Jumeirah. Large construction projects, flashy sports events, super expensive hotels.

But Dubai wasn't always like that.

"When I came here, it was not easy to get drinking water, also. Some fellow from small wells, bringing it on donkeys and deliver to our house, then we boil it, then we drink it. It was not easy at that time, but we were very happy. Life was simple, and we were happy."

Those are the words of Lachman Bhatia, who arrived in Dubai in 1963, when the United Arab Emirates weren't even the UAE yet but the Trucial States, when traveling by boat was the only possible way to make it there, when apart from working, there was nothing at all to do.

Bhatia and many others were the ones who introduced the passion for cinema to Dubai, which for decades had the Plaza Cinema as its most representative symbol. It also became a hub for the Indian expats, one of the most important communities of Dubai.

"As the cinema grew more popular, it started hosting these huge red carpet events for movie openings. Huge queues would snake around the side of the building and big bands of drummers, photographers and press and all these people would be there. Because it wasn’t just about the movies."

Unfortunately, the cinema, which was called the Golden Cinema during its last years, was demolished in 2015.

But this podcast isn't just about a cinema or one particular community. This Kerning Cultures podcast is about us all and about our memories:

"You never really pause to think about the things you see every day which make your city your city. The grocery stores and the roundabouts and the high rises, even down to the minute details like the cracks in the pavement. It’s all subconscious, but it paints a portrait of your home. And it’s only when those things are gone forever that we realise how important they actually were."
Discovering Dubai's History Through A Demolished Cinema
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