Did the UAE ban the Barbie movie? What about Saudi Arabia? Latest release date information for Middle East

Did the UAE ban the Barbie movie? What about Saudi Arabia? Latest release date information for Middle East
When will the Barbie movie be released in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Lebanon and elsewhere in the Middle East? Latest news on the decision and release date for Greta Gerwig-directed comedy starring Margot Robbie, and Ryan Gosling in MENA
3 min read
04 August, 2023
Barbie, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, is a global smash hit [Getty]

Barbie film fans in the Middle East will breathe a sigh of relief as the UAE’s main censorship body on Thursday confirmed that the highly-awaited Barbie movie would finally be arriving in the Gulf state.

The UAE Media Council,  the regulatory authority responsible for monitoring and censoring media content in the Emirates, announced that it had cleared the Greta Gerwig-directed comedy, which is currently the highest grossing film of the year.

“The UAE Media Council has granted the Barbie movie the approval to be screened in the UAE’s licensed cinemas after completing the necessary procedures in line with the standards of media content and the UAE age classification,” the authority clarified.

The movie was originally scheduled to be released on July 20, the international release date. However, at the beginning of last month, cinemas in the UAE changed the release date to August 31, with no official reason given. Still, it was clear that censors were reviewing the film's content before approving it for release.

Though no reason was given by the censors for their review of Barbie, it has been reported that the main concern was LGBT and feminist-related narratives and dialogue in the movie. It has faced similar delays in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt and Bahrain.  Egypt has since said the screening will go ahead, but Saudi Arabia has yet to confirm.

It is not yet clear when the film will be released, but according to local media, Vox Cinemas, the largest cinema chain in the Emirates, still has a release date of August 31.

Starring Margot Robbie in the iconic titular role and Ryan Gosling as Ken, Barbie follows the couple as they set off for an adventure in the real world. The film has grossed an astonishing $800 million at the box office, with it set to easily surpass the $1 billion mark that will assure its place on the all-time highest-grossing movies list.

Love it or loathe it, Barbie has quickly become embedded in and even transcended popular culture, with figures such as Malala Yousafzai praising it for its perceived feminist content. 

Despite Barbie’s absence from the UAE, the Gulf state has not been spared the fever that has accompanied the film, with restaurants pink-themed dishes and a video of a 3D Barbie walking out and standing next to Burj Khalifa going viral with views of over 3 million on social media.