(Xinhua) — For the first time in his life, 13-year-old Mohammed al-Ali was able to watch his favorite animation movie on a big screen installed on the beach of Gaza City.
“It was amazing to watch the movie with others … I dreamed often to visit a cinema someday and watch all my favorite movies,” the boy told Xinhua, as he flashed a smile.
Excited and thankful for such an initiative to put up a free open-air cinema, dozens of local movie-goers of various ages would gather in front of the big screen after sundown. They would watch different genres of movies while sitting on chairs converted from recycled broken car tires.
The open-air cinema was part of an eco-friendly cafe named “The Sea Is Ours,” which was built by a group of Palestinian youths using recycled solid waste in 2021.
Located on the beach of Gaza City, the cafe is the first of its kind in Gaza that aims to change people’s behavior towards the environment, according to Ali Mohanna, a Gaza-based activist who launched the non-profit initiative.
The project of the eco-friendly cafe and open-air cinema falls under the responsibility of Abdul Muhsin al-Qattan Foundation and the Gaza Municipality, Mohanna said, adding that he succeeded in recruiting about 20 volunteers to help him.
“Initially, when I started to build my eco-friendly cafe in 2021, I intended to teach local residents the way to deal with their solid waste and recycle them into useful eco-friendly tools,” the young man, in his 30s, told Xinhua.
In a bid to achieve his goals, Muhanna and his colleagues opened dozens of workshops to teach people methods of recycling and protecting the environment.
With two years of hard work, Muhanna and other local residents successfully recycled hundreds of tons of solid waste and turned it into useful things, such as the furniture in the open-air cinema.
Moreover, Mohanna has also urged the Hamas-run authorities in Gaza to reopen cinemas in the coastal enclave, as he believes the move would provide solace for the people who have suffered greatly as a result of the dreadful political and economic conditions.
“We highlight that local residents are looking forward to having cinemas as an essential part of cultural life,” he said.
The first cinema in Gaza was built in 1944 and by the late 1960s, there were 10 others. However, disputes among political forces and Islamic parties caused the closure of cinemas during the first Palestinian intifada in 1987 and they have remained closed due to government and political restrictions.